HC Deb 09 October 1946 vol 427 cc194-6
52. Mr. Hogg

asked the Minister of Food the estimated total savings of wheat and flour due to bread rationing to 1st October, 1946.

72. Mr. Peter Freeman

asked the Minister of Food whether he will make a statement on the wheat and bread situation, including the amount that has so far been saved by bread rationing, and the amount of cakes and buns that is now being sold as a result.

Mr. Strachey

The weekly off-take of flour from Ministry-controlled stocks prior to the introduction of bread rationing was, on the average, 101,000 tons; the off-takes during the 10 weeks of rationing have been, for each week as follows, in thousands of tons: 71, 69, 63, 76, 78, 83, 82, 82, 74, 82.

This is an average of 76,000 tons a week and a total of 760,000 tons for the ten weeks. At the old rate total off-take for the 10 weeks would have been 1,010,000 tons, so there is an apparent saving of 250,000. But there was certainly some stocking up before rationing. We put the stocking up figure at some 36,000 tons.

So the real saving in off-take appears to have been about 214,000 tons or about 20 per cent. so far. I hardly think that saving will continue at so high a rate. I am afraid that no separate figures are available for sales of cakes and buns.

Mr. Hogg

On the assumption that these figures are a reliable guide, and having regard to the fact that the Minister was only aiming at 7 per cent., is it not absolutely plain that the British people are being deprived of a considerable amount of flour?

Mr. Strachey

No, Sir. In the first place, I do not know whether the hon. Member was suggesting that the figures were unreliable or not—

Mr. Hogg

I said, on the assumption that they were reliable.

Mr. Strachey

I just wanted to get that point quite clear. On that assumption, the people are not being deprived of the extra saving. They can take out bread units to a higher extent than they are doing. They are exchanging some of them for points goods, for example, and, therefore, they are not being deprived of bread or flour.

Mr. Freeman

Is it not a fact that the community have welcomed the allocation of cakes that they have been able to get since rationing was introduced and which they were not able to get before?

Captain John Crowder

If the right hon. Gentleman has any future statement to make on bread rationing, will he arrange to make it to this House and not to a Press conference, as was reported in the papers this morning?

Mr. Strachey

I was asked a direct question on the future of bread rationing at a Press conference yesterday, and it was necessary for me to answer that question, but now that the House is sitting I will certainly make all such announcements to this House.

Mr. Hogg

I want to press the right hon. Gentleman on this. He gave us to understand that the target was a 7 per cent. saving. He now gives us to understand he has succeeded in saving 20 per cent. Does it not follow from this that he is saving somewhere about 13 per cent. more than was originally regarded as necessary, and is not that a thoroughly bad thing?

Mr. Straehey

No, Sir. The saving has been greater than our extremely conservative estimate—and I am very glad we made a conservative estimate—but it is in a sense very largely a voluntary saving.