HC Deb 08 November 1954 vol 532 cc852-3
36. Mr. E. L. Mallalieu

asked the Minister of Food if he is aware that Britannia Mills, Kirton Lindsey, Lincolnshire, and at least a dozen other mills in rural areas have been obliged to close down as a result of the ending of Government control; and what he proposes to do in the national interest to arrest this trend.

Mr. Amory

I understand that several small flour mills have ceased production. This is no doubt part of a process of normal economic readjustment following the long period of control and does not call for intervention by Her Majesty's Government.

Mr. Mallalieu

But would not the right hon. Gentleman agree that these smaller mills, largely situated, as they are, in rural areas, have been a great benefit to the farming community in the past? Would he not further agree that they are closing down as a result of Government policy—no doubt excellent policy —during the war and subsequently? As that is a fact—if he agrees that it is a fact—does he not think that something should be done by way of compensation?

Mr. Amory

I do not think so. I agree with the hon. and learned Member that it is always sad when small businesses close down, but the point here is that it is doubtful whether these small mills are economic in normal circumstances. During the period of Government control the conditions were abnormal.

Mr. W. R. Williams

Does this mean that in the Government's view there is no room now for the little man?

Mr. Amory

On the contrary, I said I was sorry about this. The hon. and learned Member for Brigg (Mr. E. L. Mallalieu) will agree that it is no part of the Government's duty to keep uneconomic units in production.