HC Deb 22 November 1948 vol 458 cc857-9
43. Mr. Gibson

asked the Minister of Food how many eggs are produced annually to the egg stations for distribution by the 458,700 persons who are registered for pig and poultry rations; what is the total number of hens in this country; what is the annual number of eggs imported; and whether he is satisfied that the maximum number of eggs produced by the holders of pig and poultry rations are passed to his Department's egg stations for distribution to the people of this country.

Dr. Summerskill

As the answer is rather long I will, with permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Mr. Gibson

Is the Minister aware that there is a very widely held belief that a large number of hen eggs are finding their way to the black market, and what steps are the Department taking to try to stop that happening?

Dr. Summerskill

We realise that a number of eggs are not finding their way to the packing stations, and my hon. Friend will be pleased to hear that we are issuing a bonus ration of feeding-stuffs on the basis of the number of eggs which find their way to the stations.

Mr. Skeffington-Lodge

In regard to the total number of hens in this country, can my hon. Friend tell me how many of these are old hens and have no more use in our national economy and will she consider turning this category of hens over to the care of the hon. Member for Orpington (Sir W. Smithers)?

Dr. Summerskill

I can give my hon. Friend one figure. There are 38 million hens over six months old.

Following is the statement:

One thousand seven hundred and six million eggs were handled by packing stations in Great Britain during the year to 30th September, 1948. Without a good deal of research which I do not think would be justified, I could not state the number of producers supplying these eggs or the extent to which they are registered for pig and poultry rations.

According to the 4th June, 1948, poultry census, there were then about 38 million fowls over six months old on holdings exceeding one acre in Great Britain.

The number of eggs imported into Great Britain in the year to 30th September, 1948, excluding supplies from Northern Ireland, was 1,820 million.

As regards the last part of the Question, I am certainly not satisfied that the potential maximum is being delivered to the packing stations. Every effort, however, is being made within the limits of the resources which can be spared for this work to enforce the regulations and I hope that the recent arrangement under which bonus issues of feedingstuffs will be given on the basis of the number of eggs sent in to the packing stations will have a good effect.

44. Mr. Hurd

asked the Minister of Food if he is making arrangements for the storage of eggs bought abroad during the season of highest home production next spring so as to ensure than consumers will have a regular supply through the year.

56. Sir Patrick Hannon

asked the Minister of Food if he has considered the circular memorandum embodying the views of the Poultry Association of Great Britain with regard to the home egg-producing industry in relation to imports, a copy of which has been sent to him; and if he proposes to take appropriate action.

Dr. Summerskill

We are already trying to arrange for eggs to be stored for us in Denmark, Holland and Poland as suggested by the Poultry Association of Great Britain, Ltd., Memorandum. This is an extension of what has been taking place in Canada for some years, but it would be premature to indicate how far it may prove to be practicable.