HC Deb 14 November 1949 vol 469 cc1661-3
12. Mr. Austin

asked the Minister of Food if he has any statement to make regarding extra food rations available to the housewife for Christmas.

The Minister of Food (Mr. Strachey)

Yes, Sir. We have made a special allocation to bakers of the ingredients for making cakes and sweet biscuits. Supplies of turkeys should be rather better than last year and there should be appreciably more of other types of poultry. There will be rather more Christmas puddings and about the same quantity of dried fruit as last year. Supplies of mincemeat, candied peel, crystallised fruit, and so on will be slightly better than last Christmas, and there will be good supplies of wines and spirits except whisky, which is a vital dollar export. There will be rather more apples and oranges than last year and plenty of tangerines and other fruit.

Mr. Drayson

What about nuts?

Mr. Strachey

I am glad to tell the hon. Member that there will be plenty of those.

In regard to rationed food we shall be able to issue an extra 6 oz. of sweets during the four weeks beginning 4th December, making the ration for the Christmas period 22 oz. We can also issue an extra 4 oz. of cooking fat during the Christmas ration period. That may seem a short list of Christmas bonuses. However, I am glad to be able to tell the House that our stocks and supplies of tea and bacon are large enough to make possible an increase in the regular weekly ration, which I am sure will be much preferred to an extra Christmas bonus.

The tea ration will be increased to 2½ oz. a week on 4th December. It will be issued at the rate of 3 oz. a week and 2 oz. a week in alternate months, and December will be the first 3 oz. month. The bacon ration will be increased to 4 oz. a week on 20th November. This increased rate should be maintained for some time. But the House must not assume that it will necessarily be possible to retain it through the whole of 1950. As I have often explained to the House, the bacon ration must vary frequently with fluctuations in the supply, since it is undesirable to keep bacon for more than a few weeks even in cold stores.

Mr. Austin

While thanking my right hon. Friend for that reply, may I ask him whether he is aware that this practical evidence of the nation's recovery under the Labour Government is widely recognised in the country?

Lord John Hope

It may not be out of place to ask the Minister whether he does not agree that all things considered, politically and otherwise, this is really the funniest answer we have had in the last five years?

Mr. McGovern

Will my right hon. Friend consider increasing the fat ration to housewives, in view of the popularity of fish and chips?

Mr. Strachey

My hon. Friend perhaps did not notice that that is what we have done.

Air-Commodore Harvey

Why is there to be no increase in the meat ration, particularly pork, since many workers are unable to buy turkeys?

Mr. Strachey

We undoubtedly have considerable stocks of meat, but I cannot make a statement at present because there are questions of supply of which the House is probably aware.

Mr. Harrison

In view of that long and substantial list of increases of rations, can my right hon. Friend consider very seriously including an additional ration of sugar, because it is in very short supply?

Mr. Strachey

No, Sir. We cannot do that because we have already purchased the whole of the sterling and non-dollar supplies of sugar. Any further supplies would cost us dollars, which we cannot afford.