HC Deb 11 June 1952 vol 502 cc204-6
46. Mrs. Braddock

asked the Minister of Food what administrative steps he has taken to find out the number of families not taking up the whole of their bacon ration because of its high price; and how he will ensure that rations not taken up do not find their way into illegal channels.

Dr. Hill

The National Food Survey provides evidence of the pattern of public purchases of all foods. It reveals, for example, that the average proportion of the bacon ration which was bought by all households in the first three months of this year was 97 per cent. On the second part of the Question, action is taken whenever information about possible illegal transactions is brought to notice.

Mrs. Braddock

Is the Parliamentary Secretary not aware that, following similar Questions, his Department received a very large number of letters giving instances where people were completely unable to buy the whole of their rations because of the price, and that it is possible to get bacon off the ration by buying it in the piece because people are not taking the whole of their ration? Will he please be certain that this method is not used in order to say that it is no longer necessary to ration bacon because there is plenty available?

Dr. Hill

The National Food Survey is a statistical inquiry based on proper samples. The hon. Lady will be interested to know that the smallest take-up of bacon in the period in question, in comparison with the average of 97 per cent., was in the highest income group in which the take-up was 93 per cent.

Mrs. Mann

Can the Minister assure the House that when one housewife cannot take up her ration of bacon and the grocer gives double to another housewife, the grocer always reports his action?

Dr. Hill

The hon. Lady is as well able to reach a conclusion on that point as I am.

Mr. Nabarro

Is it not within the realms of possibility that the 3 per cent. of people who do not take up their bacon ration are accounted for by those who do not like bacon anyway?

Mr. F. Willey

Is not the supplementary information a little mystifying, calling for further inquiry? Could not the Ministry's regional officers conduct an ad hoc inquiry into this matter, because there are widespread allegations as to why the bacon ration is not by a long way taken up?

Dr. Hill

I should be glad to inquire into any statements or allegations of that sort.

Mr. Lewis

Is the Minister aware that some two months ago when I first raised the subject matter in the Question the Minister was asked whether he was going to some of the poorer areas of London to ascertain the facts as enumerated by my hon. Friend? Has the Minister made personal inquiries in the poorer areas of the country?

Dr. Hill

I cannot say that my right hon. and gallant Friend has made inquiries in individual shops in poorer areas, but I would urge the House to accept the general conclusions of an objective survey, the National Food Survey.