HC Deb 29 November 1948 vol 458 cc1616-8
29. Mrs. Castle

asked the Minister of Food if he is aware that a number of fried fish shops which had only a small allocation of fat when they closed during the war are now re-opening and receiving the higher allocation of four cwt. of fat per eight weeks period; and, in view of this, whether he will raise the fat allocation for all fish friers to a minimum of four cwt.

31. Mr. Granville Sharp

asked the Minister of Food whether he will now give favourable consideration to applications from fish friers who have no other source of livelihood and who now receive less than four cwt. of fat per allocation period, for this allocation to be increased to four cwt.

Mr. Strachey

The average allocation of fat to existing fish friers works out at eight cwt. per period, so I cannot agree that the allocation of four cwt. to newcomers is excessive. I have raised the minimum allocation to three cwt.—I cannot spare the fats to go further than this now but I will carefully consider making the minimum four cwt. whenever the necessary fats are available.

Mrs. Castle

Is my right hon. Friend aware that he is not answering the point in my Question, and does he not think it unfair that shops which carried on during the difficulties of the war period should now be chained to their datum period allocation, whereas those shops which closed and have now reopened, are doing so on a much more favourable basis?

Mr. Strachey

My hon. Friend should remember that existing shops—to which allocations, as she rightly says, are made on a datum basis—receive on that basis an average of eight cwt. per period, or double, therefore, that of the new consumer.

Mr. Sharp

Is my right hon. Friend aware that he has made no reference to the point which I raised in my Question of the man who has to depend upon his fish frying business for his livelihood? In view of the fact that the Minister recently informed the House that most of these operators with small allocations were only part-time operators, will he give special consideration to raising the allocations of those who are dependent on their fish frying businesses for their livelihood?

Mr. Strachey

It was in view of that consideration that we did raise the minimum to three cwt. and I wish to repeat that as soon as we have the fats, we should very much like to raise it further to four cwt.

Mr. Peter Thorneycroft

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that many of these shops which closed down during the war period did so because the men concerned had joined the Forces; and will he continue to see that these men have at least as fair an amount as anybody else?

Mr. Strachey

That is one of the reasons which induced us to allow free entry into the trade.

Mr. John Lewis

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that it is not the question of the average allocation of fats which matters so much as the grievance involved in individual cases and the discrepancy as between case and case?

Mr. Strachey

Those are both considerations which we have in mind.

Air-Commodore Harvey

In view of the dissatisfaction amongst fish friers, will the right hon. Gentleman receive a deputation from them to discuss the whole matter and try to come to a reasonable arrangement?

Mr. Strachey

Certainly. I have received one such deputation already and I am always willing to receive another.

Mrs. Castle

If the average which my right hon. Friend has mentioned is as high as he says, is it not clear that it would not take a great deal more fat to bring those receiving less than four cwt. up to that level?

Mr. Strachey

It depends on what my hon. Friend considers is a "great deal," but it takes more fat than we have got at the moment.