HC Deb 24 May 1954 vol 528 c23
38. Mr. Short

asked the Minister of Health what the annual estimated cost of the distribution of welfare foods will be in Newcastle-upon-Tyne when food offices close on 3rd July.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health (Miss Patricia Hornsby-Smith)

Local distribution will be taken over by the local health authority; the arrangements are in hand but no precise estimate of the cost can be given.

Mr. Short

Is it not a fact that considerable extra cost will have to be borne by the local authorities? Is it not rather idle to talk about economy in connection with the closing down of this part of the work of the Ministry of Food when all that is happening is that the work is being transferred to someone else? Can the Minister say what arrangements are being made to reimburse local authorities for this extra burden?

Miss Hornsby-Smith

I do not accept the suggestion of the hon. Member that there will be any increase in the cost. In the main these services will be absorbed as part of the maternity and child welfare services already run by local authority health departments. They will not impose excessive additional duties, and the cost of distribution arising from this transfer will in part be borne by the Ministry and in part by the local health authority.