HC Deb 11 June 1947 vol 438 cc1065-6
49. Mr. Spence

asked the Minister of Food what is the basis of his Department's survey of the consumption of food in homes; whether the sample covers persons living alone; what is the size of the sample; whether he is satisfied that the sample is taken at random; and how it compares with the survey of the spending habits of 12,000 working-class families undertaken by the Ministry of Labour in 1936–37.

Dr. Summerskill

The basis of the survey is to obtain information on the food supply of working and middle class homes. Each month a sample of about 900 families, including people living alone, is taken at random. The Ministry of Labour survey was taken in 1937–38 to provide information for the revision of the cost-of-living index. This gave for January, 1938, an average expenditure on food eaten in the home of 8s. 9d. per head per week. Our present survey gave an average of 11s. 1½d. in January, 1947. It is essential, however, to remember that these figures are not comparable. The two surveys differed in method and purpose; there have been changes in eating habits since 1938, and, also, various price changes have occurred. These, together with rationing, welfare schemes, and changes in the types of food available, have affected the pattern of the diet.

Mr. Spence

Will the hon. Lady consider making available to Members of the House, either by way of publication or in the Library, a precis of the monthly survey? Does she not think that it would be most valuable at the present time, when there is so much criticism of our diet?

Dr. Summerskill

If any Member would like a copy I will certainly let him have one.

Mr. S. Silverman

When my hon. Friend talks of changes in eating habits, does she include the acquisition of the habit of eating, which was almost lost by millions of our people before the war?

Dr. Summerskill

Yes, Sir.