HC Deb 03 December 1947 vol 445 cc382-5
52. Mr. Osborne

asked the Minister of Food if he is aware that Mr. R. Kirkby, of Bradley Cross Roads, Grimsby, has been making applications to his Department for the last 12 months for increases of fats and potatoes on account of the three housing estates which are being developed near his shop; and, in view of the hardship which the recent cuts are causing, if he will have the matter reconsidered in the light of the correspondence sent to him.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food (Dr. Edith Summerskill)

I have re-examined this case and am satisfied that Mr. Kirkby is receiving his fair share of the supplies which are available. He benefited by the increase, granted in June last year, to fish friers in the Grimsby area. The supply position precludes any further increase of either fats or potatoes.

Mr. Osborne

Will the hon. Lady consider giving her regional officers some discretion to deal with areas where the population is obviously growing and there is a great demand?

Dr. Summerskill

If the hon. Gentleman will look at this case again he will find that the biggest housing estate, which is adjacent to this fish shop, is served by another fish shop on the boundary.

Mr. Anthony Greenwood

Will the hon. Lady bear in mind that there are many similar cases in all parts of the country, and that there is a feeling that the present datum period is very unsatisfactory?

62. Mrs. Castle

asked the Minister of Food whether he will ensure that no reduction is made in the allocation of fat to fish friers, who, as a result of the shortage of potatoes, are prepared to fry larger quantities of fish.

Dr. Summerskill

It is not the present intention to reduce allocations of fats to fish friers on account of the potato shortage, but as I said in reply to my hon. Friend's Question on 24th November, in the present uncertainties of the fats supply, we cannot ensure that no reduction will be made later on.

63. Mrs. Castle

asked the Minister of Food whether he is aware that general catering establishments are still able to maintain the size of the portion of potatoes served to customers; and, in view of the particular hardship caused to fish friers and their customers by the shortage of potatoes, if he will adjust the allocation of supplies further in favour of the fish frier at the expense of the general caterer.

Dr. Summerskill

No, Sir. The reduction imposed on fish friers is already less than that on caterers, and I regret that it is not possible to adopt this suggestion.

Mrs. Castle

Is the hon. Lady aware that the fish and chip shop is a vitally important standby for the working class family, and that this cut is imposing much greater hardship on these consumers than on the consumers of potatoes in ordinary, commercial catering establishments? Will she make an adjustment between the two kinds of establishment?

Dr. Summerskill

I think I should point out that, in my hon. Friend's area, it is customary to give a large proportion of chips to a comparatively small proportion of fish, and that that is why she is feeling rather piqued about it.

Mr. Walter Fletcher

Is not the reason which the hon. Lady has given extraordinary proof that, fish being a brain food, there are more brains in Lancashire than in most parts of the country?

Mr. Shurmer

Is the hon. Lady aware that the means of arriving at the reduction of supplies of potatoes for fish filers is altogether wrong, and that it has resulted in a 60 per cent. to 75 per cent. cut in the potato allocation to Birmingham fish friers, which has caused many of them to close on three or four nights a week?

Mr. Erroll

Does the hon. Lady realise that the reduction in the allocation of potatoes is leading to the retention of the system of conditional sales, and that in this case the condition is, no chips without fish? That is a thoroughly undesirable practice.

Dr. Summerskill

No, we have no evidence of that.

Mr. Anthony Greenwood

Will the hon. Lady bear in mind that this question affects not only fish friers, but the cafés catering for industrial workers, and that there is great perturbation about it.

Mr. Mikardo

In assessing the value of the fish and chip shops, will the hon. Lady bear in mind that they are the only justification for large parts of our national Press?

67. Mr. Lipson

asked the Minister of Food if he will base the allocation of potatoes to fish friers on the amount they previously used over a period instead of, as at present, on the allocation of oil, as that is causing hardship and a sense of grievance.

Dr. Summerskill

No, Sir. The only information which is readily available is on the allocation of oil.

Mr. Lipson

Is the hon. Lady aware that the present allocation in practice works out at a cut of 60 per cent. and over, whereas she stated in answer to a Question last week that the intention was that the cuts should be of only 40 per cent.? Will she not have consultation with the National Fish Friers' Association on the matter, to try to get it adjusted properly?

Dr. Summerskill

I can assure the hon. Gentleman that we did consult the National Association before we adopted this scheme.

Mr. W. Fletcher

Does not the hon. Lady realise that unless she keeps the fried fish shops going in industrial towns the efforts to get women into industry will be seriously hampered?

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