§ 1.2 a.m.
§ Mr. Snadden (Perth and Kinross, Western)
I beg to move,That the Food (Points Rationing) Order, 1946, dated 18th July, 1946, (S.R. & O., 1946, No. 1143), a copy of which was presented on 22nd July, be annulled.I and my hon. Friends have put down this Motion because we feel that the Government's decision to place oatmeal and certain other foods on points for the first time cannot be allowed to go unchallenged. I propose to confine my remarks to that part of the Order dealing with oatmeal. I never thought that I would ever see the day in this House when the consumption of oats would be restricted in any shape or form. It is a serious blow, particularly to Scotland, for no less than 80 per cent. of the total oatmeal output of this country is produced in Scotland. We feel that this Order imposes a crushing privation upon the consumer, especially in the North, and, in fact, strikes at the very heart of our Scottish agricultural economy. When Lord Woolton was Minister of Food, he always set his face against any form of rationing of what he called the "filler " foods—bread, potatoes, and oatmeal. The fact that these three most satisfying forms of food were free from any restriction was the key to the success he achieved, and the main reason why the housewife was able to accept rationing, in a severe form, for other foods. The fact that two of the main " filler " foods are now to be rationed has come as a shock to consumers. How long it will be before all three are in the ration bag, I, personally, would not care to predict. I hope to show that this Order has, in fact, brought nearer that possibility. The idea of imposing this 1130 system of rationing upon the consumer, particularly as regards oatmeal upon the Scottish consumer, may appear to the official mind as being rather an adroit way of dealing with a substitute for bread. No doubt, in the Ministry of Food, it has been argued that if bread must be rationed, oatmeal must be rationed as well. That may appear all right at first glance, but when the position is examined it becomes apparent that those responsible are either completely ignorant of, or, alternatively, have completely ignored the special circumstances of many thousands of families who are dependent upon oatmeal, not merely as a substitute for bread, but as an essential food in their daily life.
As many of us know, oatmeal forms a large part, in fact a major part, of the staple diet of the Scottish people, both in town and country, unlike England or Wales, where the consumption of oatmeal is negligible. In almost every Scottish home porridge is the basis, if not the whole, of the breakfast, and in many rural homes it is even the supper as well. Oatcakes, or what we call " bannocks," which, as hon. Members may know, are thick oatcakes, have their place in every rural Scottish home. In the rural areas oatmeal is bought, not by the pound, but by the stone, or even by the sack of 140 lbs. In the hills and the glens, a sack of meal is laid in after harvest to carry over the winter. This is a matter of sheer necessity, as these people may be cut off for weeks by heavy snowfalls or icebound roads. The farm workers consume porridge twice a day, and it is estimated that 70 per cent. of the Scottish agricultural workers, including no less than 8,000 shepherds, draw meal as a perquisite under their contract of service. This amount varies from 140 lbs. to 1,120 lbs. in the case of a shepherd per annum.
Hence this Order, putting oatmeal on points, cuts right across a centuries old system of farm perquisites, for such a system cannot be maintained if oatmeal is controlled at anything like two points per pound on the existing allocation of points. It is no exaggeration to say that for many classes of our people oatmeal pointing is a much more serious business than bread rationing, and further it is levelled at a particular class of worker whose work is essential to the production of the nation's food. Why have the Gov- 1131 ernment decided to impose it? Have we now run out of oats as well as wheat? It is, of all our agricultural commodities, the one cereal which we can produce in this country in abundance. The United Kingdom acreage in 1945 was no less than 3.3 million acres, of which Scotland's share was well over 1 million acres, almost equal to all our other crops combined. We had a normal crop in 1945, and up til! March, our supplies were ample. What has happened since then? Has our stock of oats vanished, or has it been diminished to such an extent as to justify rationing on a points system? If so who was responsible? And where has the grain gone?
I think it is important that this House and the general public should know. Why is there such secrecy over this grain muddle? I suggest to the hon. Lady the Parliamentary Secretary that if there is a shortage, her Department is responsible. It. is common knowledge now that in March last there was an invasion by the Ministry of Food not only of Scotland but of the whole of Great Britain in order to secure oats for export to Germany. Milling oats are our best class of oats, other than seed, and are suitable for seed. So the right hon. Gentleman swooped down on the mills in this country and collared all the available supplies. The result of that was that the majority of mills went on short time within a matter of weeks and many of them have closed down altogether from the month of May onwards. So the Ministry of Food has been responsible for producing a shortage if there is a shortage. Had this emergency raid not taken place, there would have been no case at all for putting oatmeal on points.
The case as it stands is, to me, a flimsy case. If they had not cleaned out the mills of oats, there would have been no case at all for puting oatmeal on points, and we are entitled to have from the Parliamentary Secretary the answers to these questions: How must did her department collar? How much did the Ministry of Food gather from the mills of this country? My calculation works out at 40,000 tons, equal to two months' consumption in this country. If my calculation is wrong, the hon. Lady can correct me and give the correct figures. Is this the reason for oatmeal being put on points, as a " corollary " to bread ration- 1132 ing? I make no complaint about supplying Germany. It may be necessary as long-term policy. But we have had no information, no figures whatever, not the slightest indication from any spokesman on the other side why rationing by points is necessary. All we have had is the bald announcement that oatmeal is to go on points. In the words of the hon. Member for Evesham (Mr. de la Bère), "the whole thing is thoroughly unsatisfactory." [HON. MEMBERS: " You mean thoroughly disgraceful."] Hon. Members may laugh, but we consider that this is a very serious question. If the oatmeal pipe-line is in as bad a way—(Interruption.) Yes, there is an oatmeal pipeline, I am sorry to see that hon. Members do not understand the position. But even if the otmeal pipe-line is in as bad a way as the wheat pipe-line, because of what has been done by the Government, there is no analogy between the two cereals, for this reason. Stocks of oats normally in this country are at their lowest at this time, because we are awaiting the new harvest, just as we are awaiting the 1946 potato crop. It is a seasonal shortage, which will pass in a matter of weeks. Combine oats will be on the market as early as the second week of September, and there will be one of the heaviest crops on record. In case the Minister argues, as he did with wheat, that labour troubles will hold up supplies from America? No such problem arises here, because we do not import oats today.
But, if the action of the Minister of Food has denuded the country of oats and created a temporary shortage is not the answer, what is the next question? Are the Government afraid that, with bread rationing, the demand for oats will skyrocket in Scotland? I say Scotland because the hon. Lady the Parliamentary Secretary cannot be afraid of what will happen in England and Wales. She cannot be afraid of not feeding the hungry millions of Englishmen starved of bread or porridge and oatcakes. I am reminded that Dr. Johnson once said that oats were food for men in Scotland, and for horses in England. Who then benefits? Not the Englishman, but Scotland supplies. Is she afraid that Scotsmen and Scotswomen will indulge in an orgy of oatmeal consumption because bread is now rationed? If so, I suggest she has for- 1133 gotten that, owing to the severe cut in feed-ingstuffs to animals, there will be a corresponding fall in milk output this winter. Milk, to the non-priority consumer this winter, will be measured not in pints, but in drops. It is estimated that there will be a drop of 115 million gallons. People do not eat porridge dry. One must have milk, but the chances are that there will be a lot less this year than last. So porridge should not rise in consumption.
If the hon. Lady is afraid that we are going to eat more oatcakes in Scotland because of bread rationing, well they would eat less bread—which is what she wants us to do. What Scottish consumers will now do is to consume every scrap of the bread ration because they cannot get oatmeal in sufficient quantity without surrendering valuable points. If the oatmeal consumer cannot get his oatmeal, he will turn to the alternative filler food potatoes, and the consumption of potatoes will jump. This Order may well produce potato rationing while oatmeal is left unsold because of lack of points. Oatmeal consumption, although it may seem to be a Scottish question, really affects the whole country, because of its affect upon the potato position. If the Government are determined to go on with this scheme, how is it proposed to deal with the following four categories of consumer: first, the farm worker, secondly, the shepherd and his dog, thirdly, the farmer himself, and, fourthly, the people of the Highlands and Islands? Those are the four main categories with which I am concerned. Looking through my HANSARD this morning—I was fortunate enough to get it in time—I see that the hon. Lady, in a written answer to my hon. Friend the Member for East Fife (Mr. Henderson Stewart), says that the Minister will arrange for oatmeal to be supplied free of points where it is part of the farm worker's wages, and for supplies to be obtained in bulk for workers in remote areas. That reply— vague as it is may mean the case of the farm worker who, under his agreement, is entitled to oatmeal as a perquisite, but it does not apply to the 30 per cent. of Scottish farm workers who do not draw oatmeal as a perquisite, but who obtain their oatmeal on the farms in ways other than under the perquisite system. These workers who are not under the perquisite system must surrender two points per lb. to obtain the normal quantity of oat- 1134 meal, although they consume just as much as the people who are not under the perquisite system. That is wholly unsatisfactory. What it will mean in my part of the country, where oatmeal is not a perquisite? Will be discontent and division between the people who are on the perquisite system and the people who are not. It will have serious repercussions on, the quantity of food produced, and in fact, I believe, on the health of the families of farm workers in many districts.
May I give one example of what happens to a single ploughman? He will consume, according to the perquisite system, 450 lbs. of oatmeal per annum. Hon. Members may be astonished at that amount, but many of our farm servants in Scotland live upon what is called "brose", which is oatmeal and water, and they consume it several times a day. They consume 450 lbs. of oatmeal per year. Against that the worker receives 416 points, but he requires 900 points to meet his normal consumption. Where are those points to come from? It is no good for the hon. Lady who is to reply saying. " Bring the farm workers ail under the oatmeal perquisite system, so that they may get their oatmeal off points." The answer to that is very simple: Their contracts were entered into in many cases in May, 1946, and if you interfere with that, you interfere with the whole wages structure.
The other case I want to put is this: What is to happen to the farmer himself? [Interruption.] I know hon. Members opposite do not care a hoot what happens to the farmer. At present there is nothing to prevent the farmer grinding his own meal on his own farm, or sending oats to the local miller in order to have it returned to his farm as meal. Is that practice to be allowed to continue? I want an answer to that, because the fanner is not a farm worker; he is under no system of perquisites. If the hon. Lady says, " Of course, we cannot allow that," she will be faced with the ludicrous position of the farmer being able to feed oats to his cattle and horses and not to his wife and family. I think we have said enough for it to be realised what an awful mess this thing is.
§ Mrs. Jean Mann (Coatbridge)
Does the hon. Member refer to porridge when he says what an awful mess this thing is?
§ Mr. Snadden
I do not withdraw what I said, because I do think this thing is an awful mess. At any rate, we want a clarification from the hon. Lady who is going to reply, of what the Government intend to do, and how it is going to work this system. We also want to know what is meant by workers in the remote areas. Does this include the schoolmaster, who may be living in a glen or other areas? Does it cover the fishermen? We have no information at all on that. Even if these people are covered, according to the hon. Lady's answer to the hon. Member for East Fife, they are still to be on a points system. Is that so? We will be glad to hear what the position is.
Finally, there is the case of a very important person, and that is the shepherd's dog. Some hon. Members opposite do not realise that within the next few weeks the shepherds' dogs will be gathering, in Scotland alone, more than a million lambs. If there is no food for the dogs, they will not be able to work. What is to happen to the special allowance to the shepherd for feeding his dog? Are there now to be special dog points or what? Are there now to be S.D.Ps. as well as B.U's.? Perhaps the hon. Lady will stretch a point and give us S.O.P's.—sheepdog oatmeal points. I would have thought the Minister, who represents a Scottish division, would have been here tonight. Nor do I see the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for Scotland on the Front Bench. They do not seem to think the subject important enough. I would have thought that the Minister, whose Scottish seat is far more important than being Minister of Food, would have known better than to meddle with his countrymen's staple diet in this way.
What of the Secretary of State for Scotland? I would like to know what he had to say about this. Was he consulted? Did he agree to it? It seems strange that only this morning we should get the answer on this perquisite system. Was the Secretary of State asked about it? If he agreed, he did something his predecessor would never have done. Mr. Tom Johnston would have drawn his claymore and fought another Bannockburn before giving in on this matter. We have to remember when he was Secretary of State for Scotland he launched a campaign to show people how to cook porridge; and in the second, and incidentally to increase its consumption 1136 throughout Great Britain, in order to find a market for Scottish products. It is obvious, from the reply given to the hon. Member for East Fife this morning, that the Minister of Food came to this decision off his own bat. If he did consult the Scottish Office he must have done so afterwards. That is entirely unsatisfactory. I would say to the hon. Lady that the Minister will have something To answer for when he returns to his own constituency.
In conclusion, I want to say that if the Government are determined to go on with this scheme, the very least they can do. having denuded Scotland of her normal supplies of oats, is to exempt altogether the rural areas from this Order. That is the very least they can do. Secondly, they should give a promise now that as soon as the 1946 crop of oats is available, oatmeal will be released entirely from the points system. The hon. Member for the Scottish Universities (Sir J. Boyd Orr), despite the attack made upon him by the Minister of State, who said he was going to be permanently stationed in Washington—we are all very glad to see him here today, although he is not in his place. [Laughter.,] If he was here, he would tell us that this system of rationing is not necessary. But the more sensible course which the Government could take would be to abandon the whole crazy scheme. It is complex and cumbersome, a burden on officials, shopkeepers, fanners, farm workers and housewives alike. All it will do is to increase potato consumption and make potato rationing inevitable, and at the same time create a colossal black market undesired and undesirable.
§ 1.32 a.m.
§ Mr. Spence (Aberdeen and Kincardine, Central)
I beg to second the Motion.
I feel very sincerely that this Order has been put forward to people who do not understand the conditions under which we live in Scotland. The fact that the Parliamentary Secretary has had to make an announcement within 10 days altering this far reaching question of the pointing of oatmeal shows that whoever drafted this Order did so in complete ignorance or disregard of our way of life in Scotland, and the way in which our work is done. This Order is unworkable in the way in which it has been put forward, and is symtoma-tic of the mass of Bills and Orders which 1137 we have had during the last 12 months, all of which are thrust through without due consideration. The Government have not the slightest interest in North-East Scotland. Only one Member North of the Tay represents a rural area, so what do they know about oatmeal?
My hon. Friend has given an accurate picture of the general position, but I will develop one or two points concerning its administration in rural areas. The Parliamentary Secretary has made a pronouncement regarding the unpointing of oatmeal and flour which is supplied as part of the wages of farm workers. It is clear that there is going to be unfairness. She has told us that those who receive oatmeal as part of their wages will receive it free of points, but what will happen in the case of the other people who live in the country? It is not only the farm worker who uses oatmeal; there are many other people to whom it is a large part of the daily diet. There is the owner-farmer, and there is the small crofter. Are they to receive similar consideration? I submit that the allocation of points values which are laid down have only to be examined in relation to the conversion value of BU's into points, and in relation to the existing standards of consumption, for it to be seen that the provisions of the Order will mean a cut in diet for those who live in the North-East. There are many in the country and some in the towns who will feel the pinch in the coming months unless the Order is further amended.
The hon. Lady's proposals go a little way, but they do not go far enough, and they are not wide enough. Porridge, brose and oatcakes are our staple diet. In Aberdeenshire the scale of perquisites to the farm servants is 6½ bolls for a married man and 3¼ for an unmarried man. One boll is 140 lb., so that it works out at 910 lbs. for the married man and 455 lbs. for the unmarried man. That means that, in general, country people use about that amount of oats. In my view, the putting of oatmeal on points has been done as a matter of expediency. The Order is ill-thought-out, and is the sudden action of a bankrupt Minister of Food who had to find points to implement the promise he made to the House on 3rd July that there would be plenty of points goods in the shops to satisfy converted BU's. By one stroke of the pen he has helped himself to 20 million points a week from oatmeal alone, I ask the hon. Lady to contradict 1138 those figures if she can. The Minister has also grabbed other cereals into what I call the points pool, but I will leave it to other hon. Members to deal with them, if they wish to do so.
As a result of the new Order, the housewife will have an increasing worry and another harassing problem on her already overburdened list. For the rural population in Scotland the position will be intolerable. The hon. Lady has said that provision is to be made for oatmeal to be delivered in bulk to those who live in outlying districts. I hope she realises the way in which oatmeal is collected in Scotland. It is usually sold by the boll or 140 lbs. sack. It is no good having a paper bag with 14 lbs. or 28 lbs., which will not travel far or last long on a wet day in a farm cart or trailer. Provision must, therefore, be made to meet practical needs. Oatmeal must be bought by the boll or half boll. That means that in a rationing period the crofter's wife must be able to find 280 points.
I want to say a few words about the stocking up of the Scottish farm or cottage. This is not a matter of day-today experience, but is a longterm policy, usually on the basis of four or six months as regards the three essentials of fuel, light and oatmeal. In every farm and cottage there is what is known as the oatmeal girnal, a chest or barrel which will hold the whole winter's supply. That is normally stocked up in November and this has been done from time immemorial. Its necessity has been shown by bitter experience of storms and blocked roads, which cut off these outlying places for weeks and months at a time. It is absolutely essential that any plans for the forward purchase of oatmeal for the winter must be on a four- or six-months' basis. I hope the Minister realise this position. What has happened in the past to the little farmers and crofters, forestry workers, gamekeepers and ghillies? I met a farmer yesterday who told me that in the storm of 1941 he never saw one of his hill shepherds for three months. What would have happened to that man if he had not had in his advance supply? The hon. Lady when considering this question of winter storage should see that it is regarded from a broad and a long term view, as it is not a problem confined only to the farm worker.
1139 I wish now to refer to the case of the mealy pudding. The hon. Lady, in reply to a Question of mine last week, said that it had to go on points. I ask her very sincerely if she would not reconsider this decision. She had insulted a lordly dish by classifying it as flour confectionery. I can only assume that the name "pudding" has misled her. What the sausage roll is to the Sassenach, the mealy pudding is to the Scotsman. In many households it is a meat dish. It comes in the middle of the meal—[An HON. MEMBER: "It goes in the middle of the male"]—and not at the end. The hon. Lady should reconsider her decision and take the same breadth of view as she did in dealing with the haggis and put the mealy pudding in the same category. We are now to get 32 points a month, which is eight more than we used to get. They must be regarded in the light of this Order. We were told that the extra eight points would help to balance any deficiencies in diet due to bread rationing, and that they would help to provide variety. But at the same time we find oatmeal, barley, semolina, macaroni and pudding mixtures put on points. In addition, our breakfast cereals were doubled in points and many other things were up-pointed. As a result of this Order, the British housewife in general and the Scottish housewife in particular have been done down. I therefore stigmatise this Order as a callous piece of legislative expedience against which I shall have no hesitation in going into the Lobby.
§ 1.44 a.m.
§ Major McCallum (Argyll)
This Prayer against oatmeal rationing appears to cause a great deal of amusement to hon. Members opposite. I know quite well that many of them, probably all of them, would rather have left the Chamber long ago. It is not our fault, nor the fault of our constituents in Scotland, that they are obliged to wait here at the command of their Whips. It would be more fitting, at any rate to Scottish hon. Members opposite, if they were to listen to the arguments put forward in support of this Prayer instead of treating the whole thing as a matter of ridicule. Before this Order was issued I heard in my constituency expressions of anxiety that the Ministry of Food might decide, in view of what had happened about flour and bread, to put 1140 oatmeal on points too. So I took the opportunity to write in at once to the Minister putting the views of the Western Highland and Island constituents before her. The hon. Lady very kindly answered my letter at the time and gave an assurance that the matter was being looked into. I think I am right in saying that that was before the Order was issued and the decision to place oatmeal on points had not been made public. Then came the publication of the Order, and it was seen that looking into it had not had much effect and that the staple diet of a large number of people in the Highlands and Islands was to go on to points.
That being the case, it seemed quite obvious, as one hon. Member has already said, that this position had not been thoroughly understood before the Order was issued. I at once wrote to the Minister again and asked that, in view of the special circumstances of the Western Highland and Islands, particularly the Islands, Argyllshire might be excluded from the rationing Order. It is quite true that in that part of Scotland at present we are excluded from egg control, and I based my request on the same ground, that whereas on the Islands we grow a considerable amount of oats, those oats are milled on the Islands. Now, presumably, they will be sent to collecting stations on the mainland, where they will be re-issued and sent back to the Islands in the form of rationing. That seemed to me a rather futile procedure, in the same way as it was judged to be with regard to eggs.
§ Mr. Malcolm MacMillan (Western Isles)
Would the hon. and gallant Gentleman tell us exactly how many protests he has received about this Order from the Islands? I have received exactly one.
§ Major McCallum
I have received several protests [HON. MEMBERS: "How many?"]—I could not say how many because I have not counted them—[An HON. MEMBER: "Three or four? "]. Many more than ten.
§ Mr. Gallacher (Fife, West)
Were the protests from the workers or from the landlords? The landlords are very anxious that the workers should live on porridge.
§ Major McCallum
I should have thought that the hon. Gentleman would have 1141 known better. As I said the other day, I believe he is accustomed to spend his holidays in the Western Highlands, and perhaps he may even go as far as the Islands. I can assure him it is the crofters and the smallholders and the small farmers, on the Islands and in the remote areas, who have sent in these protests, and they have made strong protests against this.
I also saw in HANSARD today an answer given by the hon. Lady, referred to already, which I take it is an answer to letters I have written, and is a sequel to a letter which I have had from her about the disposition of the remote areas, not only the Islands but many parts of the mainland which are just as remote. It is this question of purchase in bulk. As another hon. Member was saying just now, it really is an impossible position to imagine that the crofters and farm workers and farmers are coming down to the nearest shopping centre to buy there a paper bag of 7 lbs. of oatmeal or, if they can bring as many points, 14 lbs. of oatmeal. That would be sent out on one of the MacBrayne or other boats, unloaded, transported ashore in a ferry boat in the normal bad weather, and the oats would arrive quite unfit for human consumption. It is absolutely essential that bulk purchase should be allowed not only to the shops on the Islands, but to those families and farms and crofts that require it. The Minister might agree to sanction it so far as shops are concerned. She may not realise, I do not believe her officials realise, that there are islands that have not got a shop. They draw their rations from the mainland. On one island they even draw them from Glasgow, which is 18 hours' steaming away. Paper bags sent out with the rations in return for the coupons will arrive in a condition quite unfit for human consumption. I ask that this particular question of bulk purchase and freedom from the points rationing scheme for the Highlands and Islands should be seriously considered, because it will cause a great deal of quite unnecessary hardship.
§ 1.52 a.m.
§ Mrs. Jean Mann (Coatbridge)
I do not propose to detain the House for long at this hour of the morning, but there are quite a few ghosts walking about, and it is time they were laid. To begin with, the hon. Member for West Perth (Mr. 1142 Snadden) has told the House that it has come as a shock to Scotland that oatmeal should be put on points. It has always been rather a surprise to me as a housewife that porridge oats have always been on points and oatmeal has not been on points: many housewives have asked each other how it was that porridge oats have always been on points and oatmeal never. The more I see of hon. Members opposite, and the more I hear them, the more I conclude that a Tory politician is the lowest form of animal life. They have carefully concealed the fact that this month oatmeal has been put on a two points per pound basis but that there has been an extra issue of eight points to the housewife. How does that work out? Can any Member opposite stir a pot of porridge or make one? I am very much aware that some Members opposite are experts in cooking tripe. Anyone in the West of Scotland who reads the "Sunday Mail" will know that the hon. Member for West Renfrew (Mr. Scollan) is an expert on tripe.
§ Major Guy Lloyd (Renfrew, Eastern)
It must be most interesting to the hon. Member for West Renfrew (Mr. Scollan) to know that the hon. Lady thinks that of him.
§ Mr. Scollan (Renfrew, Western) rose—
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Mr. Hubert Beaumont)
Hon. Members must not continue to interrupt every speech. After all, we are still debating, and not having a lot of fun.
§ Mrs. Mann
I think everyone knows that the hon. and gallant Member to whom I refer is on the opposite benches and represents the Eastern Division of Renfrew (Major Lloyd). Anyone who ever made porridge knows this, that a quarter of a stone of oatmeal will give four persons a good breakfast for a week; the pointage value of that week's feeding of four persons is seven. The housewife surrenders seven points, but the four persons have had an added pointage value of 32 this month. That is a fact that has been carefully concealed by hon. Members opposite.
Now let me deal with bulk making of porridge, where it has to be made for a great number of people. If we assume that a quarter of stone of oatmeal is sufficient for four persons, we will make a great mistake if we think that half a stone would be 1143 sufficient for eight persons. On the contrary, half a stone would do for twelve persons, owing to its swelling and expanding qualities, and twelve persons have 96 extra points. I just want to suggest to the hon. Lady the Parliamentary Secretary that she might consider the deposit in advance of points, but, even so, I am not altogether persuaded that it would be necessary, due to the increased points we have all had this month. I want to finish on this. The hon. Member for West Perth said porridge was the staple diet of the Scottish people. He is living in the past—
§ Mr. Snadden
I am sorry to interrupt, but I think we ought to be accurate. I said it was the major part.
§ Hon. Members: Staple part.
§ Mrs. Mann
It was at one time the staple diet of the Scottish people. There was a time when the Scottish people actually had to make it up thick, and pour it into drawers, and cut a slice off as required. That time was when the Tories were in power; that was the time when they cut the 2s. unemployment grant for an unemployed man's child to 1s. Then it became necessary to rely upon porridge as the staple diet. What is upsetting hon. Members opposite is not the porridge points, it is the fact that on Tuesday next the mothers of this country are going to the post offices to lift, for the first time in their lives, 5s. family allowances in respect of all their children after the first child. That is what has upset them. You are at your wit's end now to offer some clear—
§ Mr. McKie (Galloway) rose—
Yes, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. I desire to ask if the hon. Lady is in Order when she says, "You are at your wit's end."
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
I observed the comment but I saw no need to refer to it. It was obvious that the hon. Lady was not referring to the Chair.
The hon. Lady has seen tit to make an irrelevant remark, but I would be very pleased to receive her instructions.
On a point of Order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. The hon. Lady said she would be very careful about her women friends. May I ask you whether she was casting any aspersions?
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
The hon. Member did not point this out at the time the statements were made. This protest is somewhat belated.
§ Mrs. Mann
Mr. Deputy-Speaker, I would like to point out to the Parliamentary Secretary the danger of lessening the pointage value. At two points per pound it is very low. One sees oatmeal on farms, and in barns and in farm steadings. One even sees it being fed to hens. There is a danger that with the reduced balancer meal for poultry, the ordinary coarse oatmeal will be used to make up the protein value of the reduced content of balancer meal. I think there might be something in the protests of the hon. Members opposite, who masquerade now as the saviours of womenkind, and housewives in particular.
§ 2.5 a.m.
§ Mr. Duthie (Banff)
I find myself quite unable to follow the hon. Lady the Member for Coatbridge (Mrs. Mann). There is no doubt about oatmeal being the staple food in the North of Scotland. It is the staple food in Banff shire, which I have the honour to represent in this House and which is my native county. The consumption of oatmeal in Scotland is governed by the location of the individual and his or her vocation in life. In our Northern climate the cereal intake per person is higher than in any other part of the country for the sound natural reason that it is necessary. Oatmeal is the ideal heat producing cereal for the human body, the cereal par excellence for withstanding cold. It is richer in fat, and protein, and phosphorus, and in vitamin 1145 B than wheat flour, hence its large consumption in my native county, and in contiguous counties. It is an ideal food for those whose occupations are followed, and whose lives are lived out of doors. I contend that it is completely inequitable to impose a hard and fast points rationing scheme equally applicable for oatmeal to all parts of Great Britain. In the South, in England generally, oatmeal is very largely an occasional purchase. In Scotland, particularly in the North of Scotland, it is an article of daily diet and the need for oatmeal is consequently much greater up there. I would ask the hon. Lady if, in framing this points scheme, the Ministry consulted Scottish Divisional Food Officers, the retail trade, the oatmeal millers, and the food advice centres in Scotland, together with representatives of Scottish housewives. If this had been done, I make bold to say that a points scheme somewhat different from that which we are discussing tonight would have been seen.
The Ministry of Fuel and Power has seen fit to give larger fuel rations to those living in the Northern parts of the country. I claim that there is even greater reason for a differentiation in the rationing of oatmeal, which is the main body fuel of Scotland. Those who do need a large cereal intake, require as much variety of diet as their points can obtain for them. It is wrong that these people must yield up their points to obtain their oatmeal requirements at the expense of the variety of diet which their points should provide and which they require as much as people living farther south. I do appeal to the hon. Lady to withdraw this Order, and if it has to be reintroduced, let it be re-introduced in such a way that these tremendous points disadvantages do not bear so heavily on the people of the North of Scotland. The hon. Member for Coat-bridge referred to the part played by oatmeal in the regimen of the people in the North of Scotland. I can inform her that the average consumption there is ten ounces a day, and I have that figure on the best authority, and I would ask the hon. Lady who will reply to refute that figure, if she can. That is the consumption in the North of Scotland, and I leave it to hon. Members to work out the number of points which will be required every month to make it possible. This Order has been produced 1146 without the necessary knowledge, and most certainly without the consultation which the matter deserves and, in closing, I would ask the hon. Lady to be big-minded enough, on behalf of the Ministry of Food, to admit that a mistake has been made and withdraw the Order.
§ 2.12 a.m.
§ Major Niall Macpherson (Dumfries)
In the early part of the Debate this evening— and that seems a very long time ago— we were urged by a speaker opposite not to be mealy-mouthed. I would ask the hon. Lady the Parliamentary Secretary at least to be mealy-minded. I would like to support very strongly, first of all, what my hon. Friend the Member for West Perth (Mr. Snadden) said about concessions which have been made and concessions which have not. It seems to be becoming the practice of the Government to take things away from Scotland and then give them back as concessions. They have taken oatmeal away—at any rate, they have put it on points—and now they have made a concession in allowing those who receive oatmeal as part of their perquisites under contract to continue to got it free of points. As my hon. Friend said, there are a great many farm workers who do not receive oatmeal on those terms, and I will ask the Parliamentary Secretary to give an assurance that all farm workers will be allowed to get oatmeal free of points. It would be unfair if certain farm workers, because they get oatmeal as part of their contractual rights, got it free of points, whereas others did not.
I wrote to the Parliamentary Secretary before on this point, and I said that the case was similar to that of the miners. The miners—I think I should be right in saying all miners—get as much coal as they require. Some get it free, some get it at a reduced price, others pay the full price.
§ Mr. Thomas Brown (Ince)
On a point of Order. The statement made by the hon. and gallant Member should not be allowed to go unchallenged. Miners do not get coal free.
§ Major Macpherson
I do not think the hon. Gentleman quite understood. I said that miners get as much coal as they require; some get it free, some pay a 1147 reduced amount and some pay the full amount, but in any case they all get coal, and I suggest that in the same way all farm workers ought to get oatmeal.
I want to put this to the Parliamentary Secretary. Will she say quite clearly what is the justification for putting oatmeal on points? The hon. Lady the Member for Coatbridge (Mrs. Mann) suggested that oatmeal was being put on points because bread and breakfast cereals were on points. Is that the point of view of the Parliamentary Secretary? Because if it is, she should bear in mind the fact that oatmeal is not only used as a breakfast cereal, but it is also used as soup—or in place of soup—in the evening, and has many other uses as well. For example, it is used to make the herring a somewhat less barbarous dish. As consumed in Scotland, done up in oatmeal, it is really delicious; as it is served in this House—well, it is not so good. Will the hon. Lady make that point quite clear? Alternatively, does the hon. Lady anticipate that if oatmeal were not on points there would be a switch over from the consumption of bread and breakfast cereals to oatmeal? Does she think that? Will she say quite clearly if she had that in mind in putting oatmeal on points? I myself say that it is extremely unlikely. People consume porridge, and oatmeal in its other forms, because they like it. It is not so much an acquired as a born taste; people who want porridge insist on it. One has to bear in mind that it is a good deal more difficult to prepare than breakfast cereals, and breakfast cereals are a substitute for porridge, not the other way round. If she does not expect this switch over, surely it is utterly wrong to put oatmeal on points? I say that porridge and oatmeal are a special taste, which is specially associated with Scotland. If the hon. Lady does not feel sure of that switch over, I think it is wrong to put oatmeal on points, because in such circumstances it would simply mean that we were being put on points out of a sheer dog-in-the-manger attitude. For years, the literary boors of England have poured scorn on the consumption of porridge by human beings, and have scorned it themselves. This will simply be another example of the Socialist idea of the equal sharing of misery.
§ 2.15 a.m.
§ Mr. McKinlay(Dumbartonshire)
I do not intend to speak very long, because I understand there are about 16 Members on this side of the House who desire to make a few comments. We have been rationed now almost for seven years. I am not at all surprised at the hon. Members who are here for the first time saying some of the silly things they are saying.
§ Mr. McKinlay
I could well retort that you have been silly for a great many years. But for seven years—
§ Colonel J. R. H. Hutchison (Glasgow, Central)
On a point of Order. Is it in Order for an hon. Member to tell you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, that you have been silly for seven years?
§ Mr. McKinlay
I do not think I used a form of words which was wrong. The hon. Member for Galloway (Mr. McKie) is that, and if the hon. and gallant Member for Central Glasgow (Colonel Hutchison) keeps interrupting we will place him in the same category. Let me repeat: For almost seven years we have been rationed, and I always understood that hon. Members opposite claimed that all the virtues associated with rationing belonged to the régime of Lord Woolton and his successor. They even credited him with the introduction of the points system. The fact that it was conceived in Germany, of course, is conveniently forgotten. But in any case, what was the purpose of the points system? I had some experience of the administration of the rationing system in Glasgow all through the war, and at the beginning of peace. I have never previously witnessed such an artificial agitation on food rationing as I have witnessed in this House during the last four or five weeks. It is beginning to dawn on the people outside that there is something artificial about this. What was the purpose of the points rationing? It was to equalise the supply and demand of commodities at particular periods. Lord Woolton, as the first Food Minister, used to empty the housewife's larder for the weekend with a bedtime story. He manipulated points, and placed them beyond the capacity of the housewife to get 1149 them. But that was a virtue in the eyes of Members of the last Parliament. There was never a complaint. And, if my memory serves me correctly, mills were closed down during that period. The hon. Member for West Perth (Mr. Snadden) gave a little squeak; but it was only a little squeak, because there was a war in progress.
On point of Order. Is it in Order for the hon. Member to refer to facts of the last Parliament? In referring to decisions, is he not thereby querying decisions taken by a majority of the House?
Surely, a decision of the House binds the whole House, as Mr. Speaker ruled the other evening?
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
I have already said that I have heard nothing in the speech of the hon. Member which is out of Order.
§ Mr. McKinlay
If Members are honest with themselves, it is obvious that the world food situation is more difficult now than at any period during the war. I object to hon. Members opposite assuming that they are the only people who have any regard for either rural or industrial areas. I remember fighting a by-election in a rural area. [HON. MEMBERS: "Which one?"] The constituency represented by the hon. and gallant Member for Perth (Col. Gomme-Duncan). It was amazing the number of persons in rural areas who had heard about the party which now form the Government. I remember at Spittal Glenshee that the burning question was whether, under Socialism, private servants would be required? I remember a fellow asking if a man who folded another man's pants at night and unfolded them in the morning would be out of a job.
§ Sir William Darling (Edinburgh, South)
On a point of Order. Has a rural constituency anything to do with this?
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
I was waiting because the hon. Member might be using it as a matter of illustration.
§ Mr. McKinlay
I want to deal with the assumption of hon. Members opposite that rural areas should be excluded. The hon Member for Banff (Mr, Duthie) has given me a cue to something I always wanted to know. If oatmeal has all the virtues claimed on its behalf by my hon. Friend in generating heat, I have solved the problem of all the sulphur and treacle syrup which my mother made me take to cool my blood. I think that the industrial workers are just as entitled—
§ An Hon. Member: Wash your ears.
§ Mr. McKie rose—
§ Hon. Members: Speak up.
On a point of Order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. Is it in Order for an hon. Member opposite—I cannot say which one—to say, audibly, "Wash your ears"?
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
The hon. Member has placed me somewhat at a disadvantage. Apparently his hearing is better than mine. I did not hear the alleged remark.
§ An Hon. Member: The remark was, "Wash your ears."
Further to that point of Order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, the noble Lady the Member for Norwich (Lady Noel-Buxton) emphasised what the hon. Member said.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
I rattier gathered or, shall I say, assumed that up to now hon. Members have been discussing oatmeal.
On a point of Order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. I appeal for your protection. I understood the hon. Member 1151 who was addressing the House asked you, as far as I understood him, whether the noble Lady the Member for Norwich (Lady Noel-Buxton) was in Order in asking whether my ears were clean.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
That being the case, the hon. Member, who asked for a Ruling and guidance, has been guilty of false information.
§ Mr. McKie rose—
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
I shall not ask or insist that the hon. Member withdraw his remarks, but I think he should do so.
§ Mr. McKinlay
I have tried not to be provocative. I want to deal with the rather selfish point of view of hon. Members opposite who want to exclude rural areas. The difficulty about excluding any particular area is that once one begins, there is no knowing where it will end. I am satisfied that there would be no question of putting oatmeal on points if the difficulty did not exist. I have sufficient knowledge of food administration to know that there is resilience in the Ministry's methods, and that they are capable of meeting difficulties which could not have been foreseen when the Order was drafted. May I say to my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary in a friendly way that on this side of the House, at least, we are asking that some indication should be given, arising out of the experience of putting this commodity on points, of that resilience for which the Ministry has been famed during the war? I say that and give credit to Woolton and Llewellin. [HON. MEMBERS: "Order."] Excuse me, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, could we call a doctor—[Interruption.]—I want to let some other hon. Members speak and I am making this suggestion to the Minister in all seriousness. I know the difficulties and misunderstandings women experience when using the points. A 1152 commodity has never been placed on points without grousing and grumbling in the initial stages, but we are an adaptable people, and if the Minister responds and gives the same treatment to this commodity as has been given in the case of other commodities, I am satisfied that the fears of hon. Members opposite will disappear. It is a simple matter for the Ministry to meet objections which arise out of the real difficulties caused by isolation in different parts of the country. They had to do it with the egg marketing system and the milk distributing system. I have heard it said, "Come to Argyllshire and you will get all the eggs you want." I will conclude by saying, " If you come to Argyllshire, you will get all the accommodation on the B.B.C. you want as well." I ask the Minister to respond to the appeal made from this side of the House. Even if it is a plea from this side of the House, hon. Members opposite will appreciate it, too, if a concession is made.
§ 2.32 a.m.
§ Lord William Scott (Roxburgh and Selkirk)
The House this morning has been in a mood of which Scotland anyhow would have been thoroughly ashamed if she had been aware of the position. I most humbly suggest that a House of Commons whose Members have voted themselves a thousand pounds a year might have listened seriously for one evening to what must in the very least be a considerable inconvenience to a great number of thoroughly decent citizens in Scotland. I humbly suggest to the Scottish hon. Members that they might treat this Debate as if it were fairly serious and not try to turn it into a complete rag—
§ Mr. Pritt (Hammersmith, North)
If the noble Lord will permit me to interrupt him, I think we should have found it much easier to listen seriously to the Debate if any one solitary hon. Member opposite said anything worth listening to.
§ Lord William Scott
We are aware of the great ability of the hon. and learned Member for North Hammersmith (Mr. Pritt), but some of his remarks were quite unworthy of any Member of Parliament. I regret that the hon. lady the Member for Coatbridge (Mrs. Mann) is no longer here. I hope that she will return before I come to the end my address because I have quite a lot I would like to say to her about porridge—
§ Lord William Scott
We are aware that oatmeal is of far more importance to the people of Scotland than it is to those Sassenachs who have not yet learned its merits—
§ Lord William Scott
Possibly I do not possess the accent which one associates with that part of the Islands.
There are three matters concerning this Order on oatmeal which I think will seriously affect Scotland. The first one concerns the oatcake industry. Oatmeal having now gone on points, it will mean that one of the youngest and most successful growing Scottish industries will probably be considerably hampered. I would remind the House that, many years ago, the inhabitants of England and the rest of the world discovered what an immensely fine product from Scotland was to be found in the shape of whisky, and just as Scotland is the only country in the world which can make whisky of that quality, so I believe we can claim that Scotland is the only country that is really able to make the oatcake. During the last 30 or 40 years Britain, particularly England, has been flooded with importations, very largely from across the Atlantic, of what are called breakfast cereals various concoctions which are easily cooked and easily digested, and on which the good people of England waste an immense amount of money in the course of the year. During the last few years some farseeing and industrious Scottish people have been building up an export industry from Scotland, largely to England, of oatcake, and also of processed oats for porridge, and Scotland was building up a very successful young business which, in the years to come, might in importance have been almost a rival of their export trade in whisky. The people of England were learning at last what a very good product Scottish oatmeal, Scottish oatcake, and Scottish porridge oats may be. There is no doubt, however, now that oatmeal has been put on points, and perhaps to an even greater extent because the manufacturers are now no longer able to buy the raw material of oats, this export trade, this flourishing young business growing up in 1154 Scotland, is likely to come either to an early end or else have its progressive career very seriously checked. It is most regrettable. One realises that if a very large proportion of Scottish oats are to be sent to the Continent or used for other purposes, that is one of the sacrifices that we shall have to make. But there it is probably the most successful of the young Scottish industries, which has grown up in the last few years, by this Order, will be, definitely hurt, if not worse.
The second matter I wanted to speak about was one on which we would like further information, and that is to what extent will the Ministry of Food assist both the shepherd and the agricultural worker in his purchase of bulk oatmeal? In the part of the world which I have the honour to represent, especially in the County of Selkirk, there are many areas where it is the normal custom for the shepherd or agricultural worker up in the hills to buy at least two bolls of oatmeal at a time. I was getting further information on this subject last weekend from the millers. They said that it was by no means unusual for a shepherd at the head of the valley, and others, to buy four ten-stone sacks of oatmeal at one time to store up for the winter months. They will probably have to forgo that this winter. In this world, one cannot have everything one wants. But will the Ministry of Food see to it that those living at the head of the valley are able to buy, at any rate, two ten-stone sacks of oatmeal for the use of themselves, their families and their dogs? I am not going to ask for four, but I believe that they should be able to buy that amount at a time. It is not only the shepherds; it is a custom that has gone on from time immemorial among agricultural workers in those parts just as much as among the shepherds.
My last point, and it is not an easy one with which to deal, is the question of the shepherd's dog. Rural Members will know of the shepherd's dog, because most shepherds, certainly in the hill districts— and it is really only the hill shepherds I am worrying about—have two or three dogs, sometimes even more. I know of one or two of the big hill sheep farms where there are two shepherds living together, with as many as nine dogs between them. On the low ground farms, the shepherds, who have fewer dogs, have far 1155 more opportunities of getting scraps and different forms of food which will satisfy them. When one gets up on to the high ground, into the hills, where the shepherds are living far away from anything in the way of a steading or farm, there is no alternative to oatmeal on which to feed the dogs. The dogs in those areas have lived on oatmeal for just as long as those hills have carried sheep.
I am fully aware that according to the law of the land at the present moment, and for some years past, it has been illegal for shepherds to feed their dogs on oatmeal. While they are a thoroughly law-abiding set of people, they are very sensible. They regarded the order as stupid; they knew that it was impossible to enforce or carry out. They thought the matter out carefully, and continued to do the same as their forbears had done before them for generation after generation. Most of them, or many of them, experimented with the suggestion that was put forward by the Ministry of Food for the feeding of their dogs. The Ministry laid down that the food for shepherds' dogs should be national pig food No. 2. That is actually a very respectable mixture, I would not mind having a bit of it myself. There is nothing unclean about it. The only thing that the shepherds have against it is that the dogs will not eat it. Otherwise it is in every way a thoroughly respectable, thoroughly decent mixture, and very good for fattening both cattle and pigs. But it contains a proportion of palm kernel and other products, quite clean ingredients, to which the dogs appear to be allergic. Anyhow, they will not eat it. And so the shepherds continued to feed their dogs on the original food on which sheep dogs had been fed from time immemorial. I do hope the Minister of Food will assist certainly the hill shepherds; I am not really bothering about the low ground ones because they can find alternatives. If the Minister of Food wants to consider how he can do it, with the greatest of ease, I would suggest that he should work it on the same principle on which the Minister of Agriculture and the Secretary of State for Scotland allot the subsidies for breeding ewes on the hill farms. That gives a very safe basis upon which hill shepherds should be entitled to oatmeal for their dogs, and it is really only the areas which get the hill sheep subsidy 1156 which are particularly affected by this particular Order.
I did hope that the hon. Lady the Member for Coatbridge would be back by now. I had a very great deal to say to her. Probably I can cook porridge against any Member of this House, whether male or female. I believe so, and really I was quite horrified by what the hon. Lady had to say. To begin with, that any Scotsman should have bought oats that were on points for making porridge has absolutely horrified me. I was terrified lest she was going to admit she made them out of Quaker Oats or something like that.
§ Lord William Scott
I do not think there has been a morning when I have been in Scotland when I have not had my porridge. On many occasions I have made it myself, but I can assure hon. Members that I have never made porridge out of any oats that were on points, but it looks now as though I shall have to. I was terrified for fear that the hon. Lady was going to tell us next that she mixes sugar with it. It was a horrible thought. I can only console myself in the belief that she has had little connection with Scottish rural areas, because in the rural areas of Scotland we still know how to make porridge—and a very good food it is.. It is a food which we are proud to eat and always will be. Even if the hon. Member for the Scottish Universities (Sir J. Boyd Orr), who has not been here this evening, had to declare it in years gone by as an unbalanced diet, I believe that porridge made with oats, just as much as whisky and climatic conditions, contributed to the building up of the men of the 51st Division, who showed us what the Scottish rural areas could produce. To some of the Scottish Members, it is a bit of an insult when we see our oatmeal included in the points system. It appears in this list here after sago and tapioca, and before marmalade.
I have not worked out the figures for prunes, sardines, and the other delicacies which we are promised in increasing and more varied quantities but to some of us, I would remind the hon. Lady, it was rather an insult when oatmeal went on points. We do not believe it is for the good of Scotland, but if this country is 1157 in such a state as regards its food, if Scot land is so short of oats and it is necessary, then we are prepared to accept it. We do hope that if this is done it will not be treated as rather a cheap joke by those Members of this House of Commons who have voted themselves one thousand pounds a year.
§ 2.50 a.m.
§ Mr. Pryde (Midlothian and Peebles, Southern)
I am very much affected, Mr. Deputy-Speaker — [HON. MEMBERS: "Speak up."]—If the men from the moss hags will pay attention, they will hear what the Member for Midlothian and Peebles, Southern, has to say. I am very much affected by the concern which is being evinced by hon. Members opposite on behalf of the great mass of the people of Scotland who apparently still live in the days of Robbie Burns.
§ Mr. McAllister (Rutherglen)
Mr. Deputy-Speaker, is it in Order for the noble Lord the Member for Roxburgh and Selkirk (Lord William Scott) after making a statement about hon. Members of this House of Commons who have voted themselves a thousand pounds a year, immediately another hon. Member rises to speak, to engage in a long and protracted conversation.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
There is nothing out of Order. I did not hear the conversation, and it is no concern of mine.
§ Mr. Pryde
The men from the moss hags, the hills, the glens and the mountains are gathered together to try to impress the British House of Commons that the staple diet of Scotland is still oatmeal. I have also heard gibes against hon. Members getting £1,000 a year. Let me say, clearly and definitely, that I know hon. Members of this House and of another place who voted themselves thousands and thousands of pounds a year and were less worthy of it than the hon. Members of the Government and of the present House of Commons.
It has been impressed upon this House that oatmeal is the staple diet of Scotland. A dead horse has been flogged, because hon. Members have appealed for the rural areas and we have already been told that the rural areas are to be exempted. I suggest to hon. Members opposite that had they shown during their 18 years of 1158 office one tithe of concern for the people of Scotland they profess now, Scotland would be far better off today. One hon. Member made the observation that miners got all the coal they wanted. Here is an illustration of what the hon. Members opposite know of the working class in Scotland. Miners do not get all the coal they want, especially in Scotland. Hon. Members should not listen to these misconceptions. Miners are rationed for coal, just as every hon. Member of this House is rationed, and just as we are rationed for oatmeal. I suggest that if the noble lord the Member for Roxburgh and Selkirk (Lord William Scott) will inquire in the old burgh of Dalkeith he will find that the shortage of Scottish oats does not date from the month of March. It dates from farther back, and the previous Government must bear their share of responsibility for shipping the best of Scottish oats to other parts of Europe.
§ Lord William Scott
Does the hon. Member suggest that these oats were exported from Scotland before the Labour Government came into power in 1945?
§ Mr. Pryde
I want to say this to hon. Members opposite. Right from the beginning of this week they have made it appear that they, and they alone, are the Scottish nationalists. I say they are spurious Scottish nationalists. Recently when the hon. Member for Dumbartonshire (Mr. McKinlay) and I put a challenge to them to come out in favour of Scotland, we found them to be parish pump nationalists. They are just as inconsequential on other aspects of Scottish life as they are on this particular question. Oatmeal is their latest cry. I do not know what their next cry will be. But there will be one, and they will have all the Tory Press in Scotland shrieking that they are the true exponents of Scottish ideas. I hope the Minister will concede the appeal of my hon. Friend the Member for Dumbartonshire, and allow our Conservative friends that little 1159 measure of solace that they so much require, by giving the shepherd's dog the ration of oatmeal it requires.
§ 3.0 a.m.
§ Sir William Darling (Edinburgh, South)
It would be unfortunate if this discussion had too narrow a Scottish conception. My objection to this Order is founded on every page, and not particularly on its application to Scotland. This Order is one of the principal instruments by which H.M. Government seek to impose what some of us regard as unnecessary, and what we all know to be irksome, controls on the people of this country. I do not know Mr. H. Broadley, Deputy Secretary to the Ministry of Food, who signs the document. I take it that he is an official who is properly authorised to do so, but I have no liking for the instruments and ordinances which he lays before me. It has been said that there is a great deal of flexibility and democracy in the Socialist plan, that it is a device and a scheme for giving effect to the will of the people. If that is so, and I have been told in conversation that these methods of government of the remote plutocracy and the effete aristocracy —[HON. MEMBERS: "Oatmeal."]—These methods of Government using Statutory Rules and Orders such as this, are remote and far from the needs of the people. This document, in the opinion of H.M. Government, is closely related to them, but it has none of the marks of flexibility and of close contact with those needs which those who have made ii claim.
§ Mr. Baird (Wolverhampton, East)
On a point of Order. Is the hon. Gentleman speaking about pease brose or porridge?
§ Sir W. Darling
The hon. Gentleman is a little dull at any time, and he seems to be duller now than usual. If he will allow me to proceed, he will perhaps understand, but I shall not be disappointed if he does not. The observation I was about to make is that this document, signed by Mr. Broadley, seems to specialise in a great many important matters. It condescends, in paragraph 1, to mention biscuits and dry wafers and marmalade, and it tells us that special arrangements have been made for the Army, Navy and Air Force Institutes, and the Department has also been far 1160 seeing enough to make arrangements for the British Red Cross—which, it is explained, means the War Organisation of the British Red Cross Society and Order of St. John of Jerusalem. It is close to the ground in dealing with those important institutions, but it has not discovered the importance of Scotland. No definite individual reference is made to Scotland, and yet the product which has been the subject of most of tonight's discussion is the principal cereal product of that important part of this country. I think it regrettable that in an Order dealing with something which, in spite of all that has been said to the contrary, is the traditional and staple food of the greater part of one-third of the people of these Islands, this subject is not specially mentioned or dealt with. I submit that this instrument of government is a disappointing one and fails to meet the needs of the situation.
Oatmeal, the product of the oat— [Laughter]—it is something which I regret to say I never found very funny, but possibly I take a more serious view of my breakfast than hon. Members opposite—is a matter of profound and serious interest to Scotland. I want to suggest that it might be well for a Ministry which has an eye on the British Red Cross and the Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes also to take into account that area which is peculiarly interested in this product. Might I give an example? The Scots, in this matter, might be trusted. Under an Imperial system long since nearly gone the Scots were trusted—nearly a million and three quarters of them today—to found the country called New Zealand, where they were allowed to conduct their business in their own way without much interference by the central Government. I suggest that the Scots in Scotland—not a million and three quarters as they are in New Zealand, but almost five millions—should be allowed free expression of opinion on what is their traditional diet. I suggest to the hon. Lady that that consultation has not taken place. As the noble Lord pointed out, the staple diet of this unique portion of these islands is considered important enough to be classed between the rice and the grape-fruit marmalade. I submit that that is offensive to the sentiment of this House; that it is very bad domestic economy, and shows a deplorable ignorance of the 1161 characteristics of that Northern part of these islands.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
Having allowed the hon. Member for South Edinburgh (Sir W. Darling) the liberty of mentioning that, I must extend the same privilege to the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher).
§ Mr. Gallacher
The hon. Member referred to Scotsmen in New Zealand who could farm their land without interference from the central Government. Does he suggest that the central Government drove them out of Scotland, or was it the robber landlords?
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
I shall not be able to allow the hon. Member to answer that question. It does not seem to apply to the Order now under discussion.
§ Sir W. Darling
With your permission, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, I shall answer the hon. Member on another occasion, when you arc more indulgent.
§ Sir W. Darling
This is, indeed, an evening of many disappointments. It makes me all the more eager to speak at some length as you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, suggest that in the future I may not have the good fortune to catch your eye. I know that you will be tender to one who is doing something, perhaps not very well, but for the last time.
The noble Lord and other speakers have pointed out that this oat product of ours is of a unique character, and it is not possible for those unfamiliar with the rude agriculture of Scotland to appreciate its importance in our economy. The English economy has depended very largely for two generations now on imported wheat. Scottish economy has not relied to anything like that extent on imports. There is no cereal produced in the United Kingdom which is used so universally, in relation to the area in which it is produced, as our oats are. The wheat which is grown in England is milled. Furmenty, which was the old 1162 dish of unmilled wheat taken with hot milk—an old English dish—has disappeared from the tables of the people; but oats are still taken in Scotland in the form in which they have been taken through the ages. This industry, through the stimulus given to it by the former Secretary of State for Scotland, Mr. Tom Johnston, has grown considerably. Oats are no longer, as Dr. Johnson said, food for men in Scotland, and food for horses in England—to which Boswell replied, "But, Doctor, what men, and what horses."
During the last six years, because of the restrictions on the importation of oats from overseas, the growth of the milled oat business in its packet form has been considerable, and the invasion of England by this Scottish product has been considerable. The hon. Lady knows that Canadian and American oats have been excluded from this country because of the war, and she doubtless knows that they arc likely to re-enter the country. The prestige built up in these artificial circumstances is likely to be dissipated, and it will not be encouraged by the addition of points which is proposed. People with great industrial capacity have produced a greater range of commodities, but not so characteristic as those few Scottish products. Whisky is one and it has no successful imitator. Scottish textiles is another. These Scottish oats are a basic production, and something unique in character. We have built up an industry during recent years. The oat mills—and I am a director of two—cannot get the oats we want to meet the public demand, partly due to the cereal shortage, and partly due to public taste. These factors are all new in the situation, and this putting of oatmeal on points is going to set back very seriously an industry which was thriving.
§ Mr. Rankin (Glasgow, Tradeston)
Would not the hon. Member agree that one of the great qualities of oats is that they can be grown on soil which is of a very poor type, and that they require little care and little expense?
§ Sir W. Darling
I willingly say that Scotland has a greater proportion of poor land—land upon which you cannot grow wheat—than any other part of these Islands. It is true that the labour and industry of Scottish people have dragged for themselves a poor hard living out of 1163 an unsuitable soil. In the last 20 years, oat production in Scotland has greatly improved, and it has become less of the stunted thing that it was, and more of a commodity for general consumption. There has been an enormous demand for Scottish oats in one form or another in England and elsewhere, and it is because the Scots are needing this land which is not useful for anything else, except perhaps for afforestation; that I make this special plea for the oat growing industry. It is an industry which was fostered by a former Secretary of State, and the time will come when the Secretary of State for Scotland will once again have to foster it. Scottish oats, whisky and textiles are the foundations upon which our economy rests.
§ Mr. Rankin
I want to say again that we have no quarrel with the hon. Gentleman on that argument. Our quarrel is a deeper one. That is not the point that is being made tonight by the Opposition.
§ Sir W. Darling
It gratifies me to know that the Government have no quarrel with me. I do not like a quarrel with anybody. An agreeable man, said Mr. Disraeli, is one who agrees with you. I am anxious to be an agreeable man to the hon. Lady the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food. I hope she will be agreeable to me. In this matter she shows a width of mind and a capacity of understanding which I do not think the Minister of Food has, although he represents a Scottish constituency. I hope the hon. Lady will accept the suggestion which hon. Members behind her have made, that this rationing business will not continue very long. Will the hon. Lady look at the peculiar situation of the oat product in Scotland? Will she bear in mind that it cannot be produced elsewhere so successfully, that it is a crop of a unique character, that there is an expanding demand for it, that it is a staple food of the Scottish people, and that there is a growing demand for it among English people?
I ask her not to look at this with the same eye as she looks at dry wafers, including icecream cones, or fish, which means freshwater fish and fish found in the sea. I hope she will not look upon Scottish porridge oats in that way. This is a national dish, a national food, the national sustenance of a great people who, 1164 from their ranks, found James Keir Hardie, who created the party to which the hon. Lady belongs today. Is there no gratitude in Socialism? Is it, as its enemies say, mean, greedy, grasping, narrow, intolerant, or is it wide and generous? James Keir Hardie was the product of Scottish oats. Do hon. Members opposite not feel they want to pay that debt? It will only be three months. I believe that rationing, as far as oats are concerned, will be over in three months. The more optimistic members of the party opposite tell me that probably it will be two months. I ask the hon. Lady to reconsider the matter. Let us have rationing of fish, which means freshwater fish, marmalade which means any jam or preserve, dry wafers, including ice cream cones, cups, boats, and similar unfilled wafer products. Let these contemptible English things remain rationed, but leave Scottish oats free.
§ 3.18 a.m.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food (Dr. Edith Summerskill)
I assure the hon. Member for South Edinburgh (Sir W. Darling) that it is because I recognise that the Scots are a great people that I am surprised that this Prayer was put on the Order Paper.
§ Dr. Summerskill
Perhaps the hon. Member will exercise a little patience. I listened carefully to the speeches of the hon. Members who moved and seconded the Motion and to their Scottish supporters. While I recognise that they are justified in making a plea for certain categories of workers who, I know, have been accustomed to certain long-established practices in Scotland—and I intend to deal with them later—I do not believe that the fine, proud people of Scotland want privileges that are denied to the rest of Britain. The arguments to which we have listened tonight could all have been used in the Debate on bread rationing. Hon. Members have said that oatmeal is the filler for the Scottish people. Bread is the filler for the English and the Welsh, but the English and the Welsh do not present a united front in this House and ask for special privileges.
§ Dr. Summerskill
The hon. Member is accustomed to listen quietly, and as I listened courteously, I shall expect the same courtesy from him. The argument which has, after all, been put forward tonight is to ask the Ministry of Food to give to Scotland what is in effect a double ration—the bread ration plus an oatmeal ration. By putting this Prayer on the Order Paper, hon. Members have, in effect, tried to come in by the back door to take an extra helping of porridge out of the national larder.—[HON. MEMBERS: "Why ration it?"]—I cannot believe that hon. Members opposite are so ingenuous; that we have to tell them why we must put oatmeal on points. With the introduction of bread rationing, an increased demand for cereal products was, of course, anticipated, and there is evidence that the demand has increased. Consequently, to ensure fair distribution between consumers and to prevent the continued feeding to animals, particularly backyard poultry, it was necessary to ensure their controlled distribution.
On the subject of animals, I was very surprised to hear that the mover of the Prayer did not know his case. He told the House just now that it was customary in Scotland for the farmers to feed their sheepdogs with oatmeal. I hope that he will give me the names of those farmers because they have all been guilty of an offence against our Regulations. I should like to tell the hon. Member that he should go back to Scotland and tell his friends the farmers that they can have, if they like, a special ration of animal feeding stuffs—and the dogs qualify for that as well as the other animals—
§ Dr. Summerskill
I should like to tell the noble Lord that it is not the stuff that he would like to eat and that animals reject. It is a different kind. I think it will be found even more palatable—
§ Dr. Summerskill
The noble Lord and I exchange letters at least three times a week. I will let him have the recipe tomorrow.
§ Dr. Summerskill
It shall be precise. If the noble Lord had accepted my invitation to come to the Ministry today, he could have had the information, but unfortunately he could not accept it. Hon. Members sneer at semolina, but it is an excellent food. Semolina, rice and tapioca are all excellent foods, and I dare say that, so far as their nutritional content is concerned, they are probably as good as oatmeal. I want hon. Members to realise that the inclusion of oatmeal and all these other commodities in the bread rationing scheme will largely prevent under-counter sales and the feeding of animals on these commodities. Consumers who wish to pay points will have a fair opportunity of obtaining supplies for their own consumption. It is unlikely that many people now feeding oatmeal to animals will use their points for that purpose.
An hon. Member said, "Why ration oatmeal?" We have evidence that during the last year a very large quantity—it is difficult to assess the exact amount—of oatmeal has. been fed to animals. When we decided to ration bread and flour, we felt it was essential simultaneously to introduce some form of control of the distribution of oatmeal which would at the same time permit of the continuance of the traditional consumption of oatmeal in Scotland. The arrangements by which bread units are interchangeable with points at parity, permits the consumer of oatmeal, should he so desire, to forego all or part of his bread and flour in favour of oatmeal. But here is one point which hon. Gentlemen, who say they have such a wide knowledge of domestic matters, have overlooked. That is, that while flour is rationed at three bread units per lb., oatmeal is only two points per 1b. Therefore the heavy consumer of oatmeal still enjoys an advantage over the consumer of bread and flour.
Now I want to come to the points raised by hon. Gentlemen and I think, if they listen to me carefully, they will realise that the Ministry of Food have given probably more careful attention to the problems of Scotland than hon. Gentlemen who have spoken tonight. We recognise that there are certain aspects of the points rationing of oatmeal which raise special difficulties in connection with the circumstances and customs of people in Scotland, and I want to take each of 1167 these separately. Hon. Members who are so anxious to speak, I think, when they hear what I have to say, will be well satisfied and feel that they will not need to deliver those carefully prepared speeches.
§ Mr. Thornton-Kemsley (Aberdeen and Kincardine, Western)
The. hon. Lady would not be a party to attempting to prevent us from speaking if we are not satisfied, after having sat here all night?
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Major Milner)
The hon. Gentleman has made his point; he might give the hon. Lady the opportunity of replying.
§ Lord William Scott
Docs the hon. Lady seriously think that we have sat in the House tonight for what we can get into the local papers? [HON. MEMBERS: "Yes."] Do not let hon. Members opposite judge others by themselves.
§ Dr. Summerskill
I want to deal first with the custom which hon. Members know full well obtains in Scotland, so far as the contractual obligation of the farmer is concerned to undertake to give oatmeal as a supplement to wages. I think it has been raised by different hon. Members. In a written reply, I have already told an hon. Member that it is not proposed to interfere with this custom, and steps are being taken to make suitable arrangements for these supplies to be maintained by means of permits.
§ Mr. Snadden
Could the hon. Lady clarify this question? This is the thing we want to get at. What is to happen to the 30 per cent. of the Scottish agricultural workers who are not under a perquisite system? Do they still surrender points?
§ Dr. Summerskill
I would remind the hon. Gentleman that every agricultural worker in England and Wales is in exactly the same position. However, we recognise this custom and therefore we are prepared to let it continue, but we cannot possibly say that every agricultural worker in Scotland should be put in a privileged position. Secondly, there are also consumers who are living in remote areas in parts of the Islands and Western 1168 Highlands to whom monthly deliveries of supplies are impracticable, especially in winter, and bulk purchases have to be made. The usual practice up there, I understand, is to get bulk purchases in before the winter, as hon. Members have told us, and we are prepared to allow that to continue. Here is a point which I am very surprised that hon. Members have not stressed, to which we have given very careful attention.
§ Mr. Henderson Stewart (Fife, East)
Will the hon. Lady deal with the second part of my Question? I think I am right in saying that these difficulties arise in the West of Scotland. I hope this valuable concession she has given will apply to everybody who can make a proper case.
§ Dr. Summerskill
Certainly. Anybody who lives in remote areas, irrespective of their work. I am very surprised that few Members have mentioned the farmer who sends his oats to a nearby mill to be ground. I understand that some uneasiness has been felt by farmers in Scotland and Northern Ireland about the possibility that oatmeal rationing may interfere with this practice. In such cases, if a farmer is only having this oatmeal ground for human consumption at his own home, and is not engaging in trade in oatmeal, we do not propose to interfere with the practice. A farmer is, of course, entitled to feed his own homegrown oats to his stock, but he would not be entitled to have them milled into oatmeal and then feed the oatmeal to his stock, as that would be an offence.
The noble Lord was worried about oatcakes. I have received deputations from the manufacturers, who feel that they have been hardly done by. I wish to remind the House that oatcakes have never been rationed previously, whereas other biscuits have been put on points. Unsweetened biscuits are four points per pound, sweet biscuits eight points per pound, biscuits wholly or partly covered with chocolate 16 points per pound. Yet we are only pointing oatcakes at two points per pound. I do not think that the noble Lord need worry. Already the demand in England, Wales and Scotland for biscuits which are as highly pointed as this is much greater than the supply. Therefore, if the oatcake is to be pointed at two points per pound, I would say that the manufacturers in Scotland will find it 1169 difficult to keep up with the demand. The noble Lord raised the question of the manufacturers. I wish to tell him that, in addition, trade users may obtain oatmeal free of points for manufacturing purposes, and black pudding and haggis will be available free of points. Again, not one of the hon. Members who have displayed such a knowledge of cooking and domestic matters, has raised the question of black pudding.
§ Colonel Gomme-Duncan (Perth and Kinross, Perth)
I have been trying to get in all evening to bring up the question of black pudding.
§ Dr. Summerskill
I promised hon. Members that I might be able to satisfy them. I hope that the hon, and gallant Member is satisfied now that I tell him that black pudding will not be put on points. It is, of course, the case that while the oatmeal content of the oatcake is high, that of black pudding and haggis is low. There is another point that has not been raised and I am surprised at this, because many hon. Members have in the past written to me about it. It has been the practice of certain consumers in England to receive supplies of oatmeal direct from suppliers in Scotland. Arrangements have been made to enable this trade to continue as in the past, but, of course, points will have to be surrendered. My final word is this: if bread rationing is removed, it will be necessary to give immediate consideration to the points rationing of oatmeal and oatmeal products. Therefore, I can assure hon. Members opposite that immediately the position eases so far as cereals are concerned, we will review the whole question of pointing oatmeal. I think the House will agree with me that my Ministry has given the most careful consideration to Scottish interests, and I therefore hope that they will reject this Motion.
§ 3.34 a.m.
§ Mr. Thornton-Kemsley (Aberdeen and Kincardine, Western)
I am sure that the House is grateful, from whatever side hon. Members may have listened to the Parliamentary Secretary, for the explanation she has given of the steps which have been taken by her Ministry to make this Order as operative as it possibly can be. But there are other points which require to be clarified, and I am sure the hon. Lady will be as considerate as she has been hitherto 1170 in making note of them, and, if possible, securing that they are cleared up before too long an interval. If the hon. Lady thinks she has completely dealt with all the points that have been raised, it shows that she completely misunderstands the case which has been put from these Benches. The Ministry which she represents is doubly at fault in that it has introduced an Order without sufficient thought or a proper comprehension of the special needs of rural Scotland, and hurriedly made amendments to the Order which, welcome though they are, are quite inadequate. May I explain what I mean? In order to do so, I must read the form in which these amendments were announced. In the OFFICIAL REPORT for 30th July, the question put by my hon. Friend the Member for East Fife (Mr. Henderson Stewart) is reported as follows:Mr. HENDERSON STEWART asked the Minister of Food if he is now able to announce the arrangements made with regard to the application of bread rationing upon farmworkers' perquisites, including the provision of meal and flour, and with particular reference to farmworkers and shepherds living in remote places where the carrying of stocks of food is essential.Dr. EDITH SUMMERSKILL: I will arrange for oatmeal and flour to be supplied free of points or bread units where it is part of a farmworker's wages; and for supplies to be obtained in bulk for workers in remote areas." —[OFFICIAL REPORT, 30th July, 1946; Vol. 426, c. 165.]I assume that these alterations must be made by issuing an amending Order. How can this amendment be made without issuing an amending Order? There is another point that I do not think has been covered by the hon. Lady. She has not said, in reply to the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for West Perth (Mr. Snadden), what is to happen to the farm workers in Scotland—one-third of the whole—who do not receive oatmeal as perquisites in supplementation of their wages, but who, in fact, eat just as much oatmeal as the others. That is an administration question which will have to be faced, and, if the answer is not known, it will have to be found out in due course.
What about the foresters, what about the gamekeepers, what about the quarry-men, the joiners, and the other rural workers who do not get perquisites? Are they still to get their oatmeal on points, and, if so, is it fair to give this concession to a section comprising two-thirds of a 1171 certain class of rural workers who, because of conditions of contract, happen to perquisites? What about the fishermen? Then there is another question not answered. Are the bulk supplies referred to in the Question to be available for certain classes of workers only? The reason for bulk supplies is perfectly clear and it has been given more than once in this House to-day. In certain parts of Scotland it is usual for a hill district to be cut off for three, four, five, or even six weeks during the winter months. Where such conditions obtain, where the road leading through a glen is blocked for three or four weeks, it is not only the manual workers who suffer but everybody, the minister, the farmer, the doctor and others.
§ Mr. Rankin
Is the hon. Member suggesting that these places could have no other means of transport available to bring them into contact with civilisation? Has he never heard of sleds?
§ Mr. Thornton-Kemsley
I am suggesting it because I know it to be the case. Year after year in the country districts this occurs, and if the hon. Member is not aware of it, he ought to get to know more about the rural parts of Scotland.
§ Major Ramsay (Forfar)
Might I remind you that the hon. Lady opposite in answer to a question said she was giving this concession—in remote areas?
§ Mr. Thornton-Kemsley
The difficulty arises as to what is a remote area. It is all right for the Parliamentary Secretary to smile, as if it was a thing to be brushed aside by her charming smile without attention. It represents a big problem in remote constituencies. Is the Parliamentary Secretary going to take the figures of snowfall and average them over a period of years to find which places are cut off? I suggest that the hon. Lady is floundering in an administrative bog. Are these bulk supplies to be free of points?
§ Mr. Thornton-Kemsley
Let us examine the position. Bulk supplies are not to be free from points. The custom has been in the past for people to buy at the beginning of the season a boll of oatmeal. A boll is 140 lbs. and it is kept as a reserve through the winter, turned over and added to month by month in order to maintain the supply as a reserve against bad weather. Last Saturday I was sitting in the humble cottage of two old friends of mine in Scotland. They are very humble people, and they asked me about this and said they could not see how they were going to live up to the modest standard of subsistence which had been their practice down the years. The old man and his wife, who were rural working people, told me it is their custom to buy once a month a firlot of meal. The hon. Lady will know, but many hon. Members may not know, that a firlot is two and a half stones. It is a quarter of a boll. This is bought once a month and lasts a month. They make their own bannocks and live on bannocks and porridge and milk—and not much more than that. The firlot is 35 lbs.—two-and-a-half stones— and that means 70 points. Now, how on earth are they to spend 70 points monthly for their firlot of meal? How are these old people to do that? There will be not a single point left for any other thing, and, in fact, between them, they have not got 70 points.
§ Dr. Summerskill
They will have their points for their meal, but if, as the hon. Member says, they live on that, they will have their B.Us., which are interchangeable, and with the two of them that is more than 70.
§ Mr. Thornton-Kemsley
Yes, I agree with the hon. Lady that they may be able to scrape along, spending all their points and surplus B.Us. on oatmeal, and oatmeal alone. But the point I want to make is that this is class legislation in reverse. It is legislation of that sort because it hits these humble folk and not the rest of us. It will make no difference to me and I am sure it will make no difference to any hon. Member of this House, but it is going to hit these small and humble cottar folk. That is why we are presenting this case this evening; it is why we have kept the House up to this time and why we are prepared to go on talking. It is not a thing which concerns the rich. It is a 1173 matter which affects very much indeed the poor and humble folk of rural Scotland.
§ 3.46 a.m.
§ Mr. R. S. Hudson (Southport)
I could not but help thinking while listening to the hon. Lady's speech of the candidate for examination who showed up with a paper he had been set and on which he had written, "I could not answer any of the twelve questions, but I have set myself twelve questions and these are the answers." If the hon. Lady had not answered questions put by herself, but had answered some of those which had been asked, we should have done better.
§ Mr. Harold Davies (Leek)
Is it in Order for the right hon. Gentleman to cast aspersions across the Floor of the House at the hon. Lady when, throughout the night, he has not been in the Debate?
§ Mr. Hudson
The mover of this Prayer asked what had happened to the supply of oats in Scotland, but the hon. Lady has never answered that question, nor why it is necessary for oatmeal to be on points at all. She said that there was some danger of leakage. But we are all considering whether these particular articles should, or should not, be put on points, and we should have some regard to the total consumption of oatmeal in relation to the raw materials for oatmeal in this country. What is, and what has been, the weekly consumption of oatmeal? Surely, as on previous occasions, the House is entitled to know what the weekly consumption was. We know the total acreage under oats in this country— the whole of the country, both in the United Kingdom and Scotland itself. We have got a very good idea, given by the Ministry in the Statistical Abstract, of the total product of those acres. We are entitled to know the weekly consumption, and I venture to say that, in fact, the weekly consumption multiplied by 52, to get the annual consumption, is a very small proportion indeed of the total available supplies of oats in this country, and that, on the point of there not being adequate supplies, there is no case at all for this imposition.
1174 The hon. Lady further claimed that her Department and the Minister had given very careful attention to the details of the scheme before it was published. All I can say is that the mere fact that she and her Department had to make such a substantial alteration in the scheme for oatmeal after it had been published shows that, in fact, careful attention had not been given to the problem, and shows that the conditions which prevail in Scotland over appreciable parts of the country had not been realised or taken into account. It is not, as I understand it, a matter of 2 or 3 per cent. difference that is made by the concessions the hon. Lady has announced she is going to make. That might have been due to something which had not been foreseen. Will the hon. Lady give us the percentage of oatmeal per week affected by the concessions she has announced? Will she deny that it is substantial? She knows perfectly well that it is not a matter of 3, or 4, or 5 per cent., it is not a matter of 10 per cent.; it is a matter of 25 per cent. at least of the whole consumption which she has given away as no longer to be on points. That, in my submission, does not show that proper attention had been given beforehand to what the effect of this scheme was likely to be.
§ Mr. Henderson Stewart
If the right hon. Gentleman would allow me to support what he is saying—I had to put a Question down for three successive weeks before the answer was given.
§ Mr. Hudson
This Order, against which we are praying tonight, is not limited to oatmeal. A great deal of the discussion has taken place on oatmeal, but oatmeal is only one of a very large list covering altogether some 15 or 16 pages. There are 18 parts in one Schedule alone. I am very sorry the Minister of Food himself is not here today; I think we on this side are entitled to protest at his absence. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Hon. Members will realise in a moment why. I repeat that we on this side are entitled to protest at the absence of the responsible Minister on a matter of such importance as this. Here is a very long list of articles which are either being put on points or whose points value is being increased. They affect in detail every housewife in the country and, what is more important, in the course of the Debate on 3rd July 1175 I ventured to predict that what the Minister of Food would be driven to do would be to increase the points value of various foods. It is within the recollection of the House, no doubt, that the Minister jumped up in the course of my speech and denied the suggestion. Indeed, he said he could give a very definite guarantee. He said:I can give that guarantee immediately." —[OFFICIAL REPORT, 3rd July, 1946; Vol. 424, c. 2216.]That is about as formal a promise as any Minister can make standing at that Box. The important thing that this House should realise, and that the housewives when they come to deal with the matter will find out to their cost, is that the right hon. Gentleman has deliberately gone back on that promise. The hon. Lady the Member for Coatbridge (Mrs. Mann) said that oatmeal was going to be two points per lb., or whatever it is, but that the housewife was going to get about eight points extra a week. But what she had not taken the trouble to work out, and therefore did not realise, was that the eight points a week that the housewife will get under this new scheme will be far more than offset by the increased number of points which she will have to give for articles which have been up-pointed, and for articles for which in future she will have to give points which previously were free of points.
§ Mr. Hudson
The increase is from 24 to 32 points—two points a week. Twenty-four from 32 is eight; and four into eight gives two. Anyway the housewife is going to get 32 points instead of 24 points per month. As a result of putting this number of goods, previously free, on points, and as a result of up-pointing other goods, the housewife, in spite of the increase, is to be worse off than she was before, definitely worse off. I take it that the hon. Lady does not challenge that figure. We have had considerable difficulty in arriving at the figure because she, or her Ministry, does not publish the actual figures. But if any hon. Member takes the trouble to extract the figures from the Ministry, or if the hon. Lady will extract them herself, she will find that the figures I have given are accurate.
It is because we believe that putting oatmeal, so far as Scotland is concerned, on points is unnecessary, and because the Minister of Food has gone back, in this matter, on the very definite pledge he gave this House on 3rd July, that we on this side of the House shall certainly vote against this Order.
§ Several hon. Members rose—
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Whiteley) rose in his place, and claimed to move, " That the Question be now put."
§ Question put, " That the Question be now put."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 178; Noes, 52.1177
|Division No. 280.]||AYES.||4.0 a.m.|
|Adams, W. T. (Hammersmith, South)||Cooper, Wing-Comdr. G.||Fraser, T. (Hamilton)|
|Allen, A. C. (Bosworth)||Corbet, Mrs. F. K. (Camb'well, N.W.)||Freeman, Maj. J. (Watford)|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Corlett, Dr. J.||Freeman, Peter (Newport)|
|Attowell, H. C.||Crawley, A.||Gallacher, W.|
|Awbery, S. S.||Crossman, R. H. S.||Ganley, Mrs. C. S.|
|Baird, Capt. J.||Davies, Edward (Burslem)||Gibson, C. W.|
|Bechervaise, A. E.||Davies, Harold (Leek)||Gilzean, A.|
|Berry, H.||Davies, S. 0. (Merthyr)||Glanville, J. E. (Consett)|
|Binns, J.||Deer, G.||Gooch, E. G.|
|Blackburn, A. R.||Delargy, Captain H. J.||Gordon-Walker, P. C.|
|Blenkinsop, A.||Diamond, J.||Greenwood, A. W. J. (Heywood)|
|Boardman, H.||Dobbie, W.||Haire, Fit.-Lieut, J. (Wycombe)|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M. (L'D'I, Exch'ge)||Dodds, N. N.||Hamilton, Lieut.-Col. R|
|Braddock, T. (Mitcham)||Driberg, T. E. N.||Hannan, W. (Maryhill)|
|Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell)||Durbin, E. F M.||Hardy, E. A.|
|Brown, George (Belper)||Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||Haworth, J.|
|Brown, T. J. (Ince)||Edwards, Rt. Hon. Sir C. (Bedwellty)||Henderson, Joseph (Ardwisk)|
|Buchanan, G.||Edwards, N. (Caerphilly)||Herbison, Miss M.|
|Burden, T. W.||Evans, John (Ogmore)||Hewitson, Capt. M.|
|Burke, W. A.||Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury)||Holman, P.|
|Champion. A. J.||Ewart, R.||Holmes, H. E. (Hemsworth)|
|Cobb, F. A.||Fairhurst F.||Hoy, J.|
|Collick, P.||Farthing, W. J.||Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.)|
|Collindridge, F.||Fletcher, E. G. M. (Islington, E.)||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)|
|Collins, V. J.||Foot, M. M.||Hughes, H. D. (W'lverh'pton, W.)|
|Colman, Miss G. M.||Forman, J. C.||Irving, W. J.|
|Comyns, Dr. L.||Foster, w. (Wigan)||Janner, B.|
|Jay, D. P. T.||Noel-Button, Lady||Symonds, Maj. A. L.|
|Jeger, G. (Winchester)||Oliver, G. H.||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Jeger, Or. S. W. (St. Pancras, S.E.)||Palmer, A. M. F.||Thomas, Ivor (Keighley)|
|Jones, D. T. (Hartlepools)||Peart, Capt. T. F.||Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)|
|Jones, J. H. (Bolton)||Perrins, W.||Thomson, Rt. Hn. G. R. (Ed'b'gh, E.)|
|Keenan, W||Plaits-Mills, J. F. F.||Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)|
|Kenyon, C.||Popolewell, E.||Titterington, M. F.|
|Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr E.||Pritt, D. N.||Tolley, L.|
|Kinley, J.||Proctor, W. T||Ungoed-Thomas, L.|
|Lang, G.||Pryde, D. J.||Wallace, G. D. (Chistchurst)|
|Layers, S.||Randall, H. E.||Wallace, H. W. (Walthamstow, E.)|
|Lee, F. (Hulme)||Ranger, J.||Warbey, W. N|
|Leonard, W.||Rankin, J.||Watkins, T. E|
|Lewis, A. W. J. (Upton)||Reid, T. (Swindon)||Weitzman, D.|
|Lyne, A. W.||Rhodes, H.||Wells, P. L. (Faversham)|
|McAllister, G.||Roberts, A.||West, D. G.|
|McGovern, J.||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)||White, H. (Derbyshire, N.E.)|
|McKay, J. (Wallsend)]||Robertson, J. J. (Berwick)||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W|
|McKinlay, A. S.||Royle, C.||Wigg, Colonel, G. E.|
|McLeavy, F.||Scollan, T.||Wilkes, L.|
|MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)||Shackiston, Wing-Cdr. E. A. A.||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Mallalieu, ,I. P. W.||Sharp, Lt.-Col. G. M||Willey, F T. (Sunderland)|
|Mann, Mrs J.||Shawcross, C. N. (Widnes)||Williams, D. J. (Neath)|
|Medland, H. M.||Skeffington, A. M.||Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)|
|Mikardo, Ian.||Smith, C. (Colchester)||Willis, E.|
|Monslow, W.||Smith, S. H. (Hull, S.W.)||Wills, Mrs. E. A|
|Morris, Lt.-Col. H. (Sheffield. C.)||Stamford, W.||Wilson, J. H|
|Morris, P. (Swansea, W.)||Steele, T.||Wise, Major F. J.|
|Murray, J. D.||Stewart, Capt. Michael (Fulham, E.)||Woodburn, A.|
|Nally, W.||Stokes, R. R.||Yates, V. F.|
|Neal, H. (Claycross)||Stubbs, A. E.||Zilliacus, K.|
|Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford)||Summerskill, Dr. Edith|
|Noel-Baker, Capt. F. E. (Brentford)||Swingler, S.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Mr. Pearson and Mr. Simmons|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Henderson, John (Cathcart)||Ramsay, Maj. S.|
|Barlow, Sir J.||Hope, Lord , J.||Reid, Rt. Hon. J. S. C. (Hillhead)|
|Beamish, Maj. T. V. H.||Hudson, Rt. Hon. R. S. (Southport)||Robinson, Wing-Comdr. Roland|
|Bossom, A. C.||Hurd, A.||Scott, Lord W|
|Boyd-Carpenter, J A.||Hutchison, Lt.-Cm. Clark (E'b'rgh W.)||Snadden, W. M.|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Hutchison, Col. J. R. (Glasgow, C.)||Spence, H. R.|
|Conant, Maj. R. J. E.||Lambert, Hon. G.||Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. 0. E.||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.||Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.|
|Darling, Sir W. Y.||Lloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew, E.)||Strauss, H. G. (English Universities)|
|Dower, E. L. G. (Caithness)||Lucas-Tooth, Sir H.||Stuart, Rt. Hon. J. (Moray)|
|Drayson, Capt. G. B.||McCallum, Maj. D.||Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford)|
|Dugdale, Maj. Sir T. (Richmond)||McKie, J. H. (Galloway)||Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.|
|Duthie, W. S.||Macpherson, Maj. N. (Dumfries)||Turton, R. H.|
|Gage, C.||Mellor, Sir J.||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D.||Morrison, Maj. J, G. (Salisbury)||Wheatley, Colonel M. J|
|Gomme-Dunean, Col. A. G.||Mott-Radclyffe, Maj. C. E||Willoughby de. Ereshy, Lord|
|Grimston, R. V.||Nicholson, G.|
|Hare, Hn. J. H. (Woodb'ge)||Orr-Ewing, I. L.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Mr. Drewe and Mr. Studhorne|
Question put accordingly,
That the Food (Points Rationing) Order. 1946. dated 18th July, 1946 (S.R. & O.,
1946, No. H43), a copy of which was presented on 22nd July, be annulled.
§ The House divided: Ayes, 53; Noes, 179.1179
|Division No. 281.||AYES.||[4.8 a.m.|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Henderson, John (Catheart)||Ramsay, Maj. S.|
|Barlow, Sir J.||Hope, Lord J.||Reid, Rt. Hon. J. S. C. (Hillhead)|
|Beamish, Maj. T. V. H.||Hudson, Rt. Hon. R. S. (Southport)||Robinson, Wing-Comdr. Roland|
|Bossom, A. C.||Hurd, A.||Scott, Lord W.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.||Hutchison, Lt.-Cm. Clark (E'b'gh W.)||Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|Buchan-Hepburn, p. G. T.||Hutchison, Col. J. R. (Glasgow, C.)||Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.|
|Conant, Maj. R. J. E.||Lambert, Hon. G.||Strauss, H. G. (English Universities)|
|Crosthwaile-Eyre, Col. 0. E.||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.||Stuart, Rt. Hon. J. (Moray)|
|Darling, Sir W. Y.||Lloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew, E.)||Studhome, H. G.|
|Dower, E. L. G. (Caithness)||Lucas-Tooth, Sir H.||Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford)|
|Drayson, Capt. G. B.||McCallum, Maj. D.||Thornton-Kemsley, C- N.|
|Drewe, C.||McKie, J. H. (Galloway)||Turton, R. H.|
|Dugdale, Maj. Sir T. (Richmond)||Maclay, Hon. J. S.||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Duthie, W. S.||Macpherson, Maj. N. (Dumfries)||Wheatley, Colonel M. J.|
|Gage, C.||Mellor, Sir J.||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D.||Morrison, Maj. J. G. (Salisbury)|
|Gomme-Dunean, Col. A. G.||Mott-Radclyffe, Maj. C. E||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Grimston, R. V.||Nicholson, G.||Mr. Snadden and Mr. Spence.|
|Hare, Hn. J. H. (Woodb'ge)||Orr-Ewing, I. L|
|Adams, W. T. (Hammersmith, South)||Gilzean, A.||Poppleweil, E.|
|Allen, A. C. (Bosworth)||Glanville, J. E. (Consett)||Pritt, D. N.|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Gooch, E. G.||Proctor, W. T.|
|Attewell, H. C.||Gordon-Walker, P. C||Pryde, D. J.|
|Awbery, S. S.||Greenwood, A. W. J. (Heywaod)||Randall, H. E.|
|Baird, Capt. J.||Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley)||Ranger, J.|
|Bechervaise, A. E.||Haire, Fit.-Lieut. J. (Wycombe)||Rankin, J,|
|Berry H.||Hamilton, Lieut.-Col. R.||Reid, T. (Swindon)|
|Binns, J.||Hannan, W. (Maryhill)||Rhodes, H.|
|Blackburn, A. R.||Hardy, E. A.||Robens, A.|
|Blenkinsop, A.||Haworth, J.||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)|
|Blyton, W. R.||Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick)||Robertson, J. J. (Berwick)|
|Boardman, H.||Herbison, Miss M.||Royle, C.|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M, (L'p'l, Exch'ge)||Hewitson, Capt M.||Scollan, T.|
|Braddock, T. (Mitcham)||Holman, p.||Shacklelon, Wing-Cdr. E. A. A.|
|Brooks, T. J. (Hothwell)||Holmes, H. E. (Hemsworth)||Sharp, Lt.-Col. G. M.|
|Brown, George (Belper)||Hoy, J.||Skeffington, A. M.|
|Brown, T. J. (Ince)||Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.)||Smith, C. (Colchester)|
|Buchanan, G.||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Smith, S. H. (Hull, S.W.)|
|Burden, T. W.||Hughes, H. D. (W'lverh'pton, W.)||Stamford, W|
|Burke, W.||Irving, W. J.||Steele, T.|
|Champion, A. J.||Janner, B.||Stewart, Capt. Michael (Fulham, E.)|
|Cobb, F. A.||Jay, D. P. T.||Stokes, R. R.|
|Collick, P.||Jeger, G. (Winchester)||Stubbs, A. E.|
|Collindridge, F.||Jeger, Dr. S. W. (St. Pancras, S.E.)||Summerskill, Dr. Edith|
|Collins, V. J.||Jones, D. T. (Hartlepools)||Swingler, S.|
|Colman, Miss G. M.||Jones, J. H. (Bolton)||Symonds, Maj. A. L.|
|Comyns, Dr. L.||Keenan, W.||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Cooper, Wing-Comdr. G.||Kenyon, C.||Thomas, Ivor (Keighhley)|
|Corbet, Mrs, F. K. (Camb'well, N.W.)||Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr. E.||Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)|
|Corlett, Dr. J.||Kinley, J.||Thomson, Rt. Hn. G. R. (Ed'b'gh, E.)|
|Crawley, A.||Lang, G.||Thorneycroft, H. (Clayton)|
|Crossman, R. H. S.||Lavers, S.||Titterington, M. F.|
|Davies, Edward (Burslem)||Lee, F. (Hulme)||Tolley, L.|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||Leonard, W.||Ungoed-Thomas, L.|
|Davies, S. 0. (Merthyr)||Lewis, A. W. J. (Upton)||Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)|
|Deer, G.||Lyne, A. W.||Wallace, H. W. (Walthamstow, E.)|
|Delargy, Captain H. J.||McAllister, G.||Warbey, W. N.|
|Diamond, J.||McGovern, J.||Watkins, T. E.|
|Dobbie, W.||McKay, J. (Wallsend)||Weitzman, D.|
|Dodds, N. N.||McKinlay, A. S.||Wells, P. L. (Faversham)|
|Driberg, T. E. N.||McLeavy. F.||West, D. G.|
|Durbin, E. F. M.||MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)||White, H. (Derbyshire, N.E.)|
|Eds, Rt. Hon. J. C.||Mallalieu, J. P. W.||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.|
|Edwards, Rt. Hon. Sir C. (Bedwellty)||Mann, Mrs. J.||Wigg, Colonel G. E.|
|Edwards, N. (Caerphilly)||Medland, H. M.||Wilkes, Maj. L.|
|Evans, John (Ogmore)||Mikardo, Ian||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Evans, S. N. (Wedncsbury)||Monslow, W.||Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)|
|Ewart, R.||Morris, Lt.-Col. H. (Sheffield, C.)||Williams, D. J. (Neath)|
|Fairhurst, F.||Morris, P. (Swansea, W.)||Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)|
|Farthing, W. J.||Murray, J. D.||Willis, E.|
|Fletcher, E. G. M. (Islington, E.)||Nally, W.||Wills, Mrs. E. A.|
|Foot, M. M.||Neal, H. (Claycross)||Wilson, J. H.|
|Forman, J. C.||Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford)||Wise, Major F. J.|
|Foster, W. (Wigan)||Noel-Baker, Capt. F. E. (Brentford)||Woodburn, A|
|Fraaer, T. (Hamilton)||Noel-Buxton, Lady||Yates, V. F.|
|Freeman, Maj. J. (Watford)||Oliver, G. H.||Zilliacus, K.|
|Freeman, Peter (Newport)||Palmer, A. M. F.|
|Gallacher, W.||Peart, Capt. T. F.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Ganley, Mrs. C. S.||Perrins, W.||Mr. Pearson and Mr. Simmons.|
|Gibson, C. W.||Platts-Mills, J. F. F.|