HC Deb 18 February 1953 vol 511 cc1211-2
2. Mr. Lewis

asked the Minister of Food his latest estimate of the non-take-up of the bacon ration; and to what extent this surplus has enabled him to increase the ration from 4 oz. to 5 oz. as from 22nd February.

The Minister of Food (Major Lloyd George)

About 90 per cent. of the bacon ration was taken up by retailers during the eight weeks ending on 24th January. The resulting stock improvement was one factor, but a minor one, in helping us to restore the 5 oz. ration.

Mr. Lewis

According to that, then, it would appear that the 10 per cent. Non-take-up of bacon is one of the reasons for the increase in the ration of from 4 oz. to 5 oz.? Can we assume that if the price goes up again as a result of the next Budget, so that more people cannot afford it, eventually the Minister will be able to de-ration bacon altogther?

Major Lloyd George

As a matter of fact the bringing down of the bacon ration to 4 oz. was deemed necessary a considerable time ago, largely due to the question of supplies, from overseas especially.

Mr. McGovern

In view of the fact that a considerable number of people do not take up the full bacon ration, especially those with large families, and the grocers pass that amount on to other people, how can the Minister tell how many are really taking up their full legal ration?

Major Lloyd George

The system I use to check this is the system which has been used by my predecessors also for many years. We have also, as I have explained to the House before, the National Survey, the only organised system there is. The fact of the matter is that the take-up throughout the year of the bacon ration varies very considerably from week to week, but the fact remains that the consumption of bacon as a whole is in excess of last year's.

3. Miss Burton

asked the Minister of Food what stocks of gammon bacon, per person per week, he expects to be available for sale off the ration; and how far he anticipates being able to maintain off-the-ration sales for the next six months.

Major Lloyd George

About 1 oz. per week; and I hope to be able to continue at this rate for the next six months.

Miss Burton

Should I be right in assuming that the Minister does not expect people who buy bacon off the ration to buy more than 1 oz. per week, because they will not get very far with that? May I ask him if I heard him correctly in answer to the previous Question, and that he said 90 per cent. of the ration was issued to the retailers? Does he not understand that we are concerned with the take-up by the customers, not with the amount issued to the retailers?

Major Lloyd George

I explained in answer to the previous Question that the 90 per cent. figure is just for one period. If the hon. Lady will look back over the whole year, she will find that the average last year was nearer 96 per cent., because the amount varied from 99 per cent. down to 90 per cent. As I have said before, it is far more satisfactory to have 90 per cent. of a 5 oz. ration taken up than 100 per cent. at 2 oz.