HC Deb 12 April 1948 vol 449 cc604-6
24. Commander Noble

asked the Minister of Food how many bulk buying contracts for tinned food have been entered into by his Ministry, which specified the number of cans instead of the weight.

Mr. Strachey

Contracts specifying the number of cans or cases have been made by my Department for fish, meat, condensed milk, fruit juices, fruit and tomatoes. For fish, meat and fruit juices the contracts specify the nett weight of contents per can. For condensed milk, the milk equivalent of the contents is specified, and the net amount of fruit or tomatoes per can is governed by legislation and in some cases Government supervision in the country of origin.

Commander Noble

Can the Minister say whether there have been any cases where cans have been found to be less than three-quarters full?

Mr. Strachey

No, Sir, except, of course, that a percentage of damaged goods exists in all these transactions, but I have no reason to suppose that that has been undue in any of these cases.

27. Mr. Chetwynd

asked the Minister of Food whether he has now reached a conclusion about the distribution of certain foodstuffs according to present registration instead of by consideration of a prewar datum period; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Strachey

Yes, Sir, following representations by a number of trade organisations, I intend to modify the existing system of distributing certain canned points foods to the trade, so that, while these foods will continue to be sold on points, their distribution to the trade will be linked to the number of registrations for rationed foods held by shopkeepers. This change is being made in the hope that it will provide the public with a more flexible distribution of these foods. It will be introduced and details announced as soon as practicable, following consultation with the wholesale and retail grocery trade.

Mr. Chetwynd

Could my right hon. Friend circulate a list of the goods concerned in the OFFICIAL REPORT, and is he aware that this announcement will be received with very great satisfaction in many areas of this country hitherto deprived of a fair share?

Mr. Strachey

I hope my hon. Friend will await the details of the announcement, which we hope to make quite soon.

28. Mr. Frederic Harris

asked the Minister of Food if he will give an assurance that whatever adjustment may be made in the allocation of canned points food inter se, the present arrangements for satisfying the general consumer demand for canned points foods will not be disturbed through any reduction in the allocation of supplies of these foods to those classes of shopkeepers who supply a large number of the public with such foods but who do not also carry registrations for rationed goods.

Mr. Strachey

The change to a new system of distribution will necessarily affect supplies to all classes of traders. But the special position of shopkeepers without registrations is being borne in mind and there is no intention of cutting them out of the system of distribution, as might be the case if the new system took nothing but registrations into account.

Mr. Harris

Will the Minister give an assurance that no decision on this matter will be reached without direct consultation with a fully representative section of the trade, particularly of those not carrying registrations for rationed goods?

Mr. Strachey

Yes, Sir, those consultations are going forward now.