§ 7.43 p.m.
§ The Lord Privy Seal (Mr. Harry Crookshank)
I beg to move,That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that the Transfer of Functions (Ministry of Food) Order, 1955, be made in the form of the Draft laid before this House on 16th March.I hope that nobody will think I moved to report Progress in order to make a speech. I had to move this Motion in any case, and I hope to do so quite briefly. It is a curious fact that this is the third time in less than two years that I have stood at the Dispatch Box moving a draft Order in Council reorganising and amalgamating Departments. It is perhaps even stranger that in each case my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture has been one of the parties concerned. There were first the Departments of National Insurance and Pensions, then of Materials and the Board of Trade—he was then the Minister of State—and this time with Food and Agriculture, he has to be amalgamated with himself, if that is possible. I am quite certain that on consideration the House will think that this proposal is a wise move.
The question of the machinery of any Government is bound to be constantly under review by that Government, and more particularly under the consideration of the Prime Minister himself. From time to time there is bound to be a question whether the functions of a particular Department have so changed that other arrangements ought to be made for the discharge of public business. The object of the Order is to merge the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries and the Ministry of Food. The form that it takes is found in Paragraph 2 (1) dissolving the Ministry of Food and in consequence distributing its functions according to the provisions of the Order. In the Prime Minister's view that is now necessary.
If one looks back at the history of the Ministry of Food, it originated, of course, in what was called the Food Defence Plans Department before the war, with which a few present Members were then concerned. It afterwards became a full-blown Ministry, and in the course of time it took over a number of 120 the functions of the Board of Trade connected with food. It did its great work during the war with all the questions of procurement, allocation and rationing, and subsequently it had—and the remnants of the Ministry still have—functions which really appertain to carrying out the great Agriculture Act passed in the time of the Socialist Government.
It naturally became a very vast Department because of what it had to do. There 'was a peak-time staff of just over 44,000 persons. That is a tremendous number. I asked with what this number could be compared, and I was told that it equals the population of St. Albans or more 'topically, Gravesend. By October, 1951, when we came into office the peak figure had gone, but it was still a very large body of men and women, 27,000. In October, 1951, rationing was still in full swing—bacon, cheese, butter, eggs, chocolate, tea, sugar and meat. They all naturally required attention so long as rationing was the policy. The changes came, and by mid-summer last year rationing ended and so in October my Tight hon. Friend the Prime Minister made his announcement of the impending change in the status of the Ministry of Food, and at that time the staff had been reduced to just over 7,000.
By 1st March it stood at about 5,600. There has been a tremendous run-down of staff, due to a reduction in the importance of a great deal of the work the Department had to do and to the abolition of great sources of that work. When that happens to a Department there is always the question of how far it is reasonable to continue it as a separate entity. One has to have some consideration of the staff problems involved. It is no good, for example, keeping a large number of persons in what I might term a dead-end Department because its functions, and therefore its importance and position in the general administrative hierarchy, are diminishing all the time.
So it was decided and announced in October that the change would be made. When that was done my hon. Friend the Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro), like many others in this country, being impressed by the fact that rationing had gone—and so many thought rationing was the big job which the Ministry of Food was still doing—not unnaturally asked, " Why have any 121 Ministry at all? What will be its job now that rationing has gone?" If hon. Members are curious on that point, I refer them to a reply given to a Question by my hon. Friend the Member for Kidderminster on 14th April last year.
The reply was given by the Parliamentary Secretary, who pointed out that among other things the Ministry of Food, as it then was, was responsible, for example, for the administration of Deficiency Payments Schemes under the Agriculture Act. That, I understand, involves the work of about 2,000 persons. There were various other things which I will not detail, except to mention those that will come back into the picture when I describe the allocation of work between the Secretary of State for Scotland and the new Minister. As my hon. Friend the Member for Kidderminster was told, among the remanet functions are questions arising from the International Sugar Agreement, the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement, International Wheat Agreements, bodies like the F.A.O., N.A.T.O. and others.
Those are a number of problems bound to be dealt with by somebody. The only question that remained was, by whom? Some might have thought, " Back to the Board of Trade," where a good many of these matters, or rather their pre-war equivalent, had originated; but my right hon. Friend decided, and as a result the Order comes before the House today, that it would he better to bring them all together under one Minister with the new designation of Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, and that it would be wise for one person to have under his purview and to harmonise all the different problems which arise out of food. On the agricultural side there is, of course, production and all that part of the picture. On the fishery side there is the catching more than anything else and the problems arising from that.
§ Mr. Crookshank
He always has a big job, but he is a big man. He will have to deal with various aspects of overseas supply, to keep in touch, as somebody has today—if it were not he it would be the Board of Trade—with the general problems of the food trade, and, of course, the consumers' interests.
122 We are quite satisfied, as his colleagues, that my right hon. Friend will be perfectly capable of doing that after the Order in Council is passed, just as he has been doing it in his double entity of Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries and Minister of Food for the last five months. He has been doing it already; it is only that instead of being two people he is being amalgamated into one. That is the only difference, as far as I can see, as a result of the Order in Council. I said that it was a difficult thing to consider, but that is what it amounts to.
There is one point which perhaps I should mention, because it is not in the Order but will have to be a subject of a subsequent order. That is the interest which the Ministry of Food has in the food and drugs legislation. What has been agreed, and what will afterwards come before the House in another order, is a division of responsibilities between the Minister of Health and my right hon. Friend on the general basis that my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health will have the primary responsibility for what one might call the hygiene problems, responsibilities for health, whereas my right hon. Friend the new Minister will be dealing with the regulations about the composition of food to safeguard health and to prevent fraud and the regulations about food labelling.
That is the general line of division which is envisaged. It does not come in the Order. I merely mention it in case somebody happened to ask why it was not there.
§ Mr. Frederick Willey (Sunderland, North)
The right hon. Gentleman will agree that this is a new announcement. Does it mean that the whole of the work of the food hygiene division will go to the Ministry of Health?
§ Mr. Crookshank
My right hon. Friend can go into any details. The answer is that the two Ministers will report jointly; but he will be primarily responsible.
§ Mr. Blenkinsop
On a point of order. This is of some importance for the future debate. So far as we can see, the Order provides for all those functions automatically to go to the Minister of Agriculture. Therefore, whatever future arrangements may be made, this is surely a matter which is before the House.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
As I understood the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman, they will be the subject of another Order.
§ Mr. Crookshank
I thought it convenient to say that. If there are questions, so far as they are in order, my right hon. Friend can answer them. This will be done under a separate order. I merely mentioned it because I thought that its non-appearance in this Order might raise doubts in various parts of the House.
§ Mr. Blenkinsop
I think that we ought to settle now what it is permissible to discuss on the Order. It provides for the functions to be transferred to the Minister of Agriculture. Whatever future arrangements the Government may make, surely the matter is open to debate now.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
I do not know the facts, but I understood the right hon. Gentleman to say that the food and drugs regulations will be subject to another order and that they are not subject to this one. If that is so, it would not be in order to debate them on this Order.
§ Mr. Glenvil Hall (Colne Valley)
It might help if I were to remind you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, that in the Order there is a reference to the Food and Drugs Amendment Act, 1954, which is the Act with which we are concerned.—It is obvious from the Order—and up to now it seemed perfectly certain, because nothing else had been said-that the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries will in fact be implementing that Act and the regulations made under it. Therefore, I submit that it will be in order at least to make passing references to the fact that in our view what is proposed, as we understand it, would not be for the benefit of the people.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
It would appear that passing references would be in order. I merely rose to say that it would be out of order on what I understood the right hon. Gentleman to say about the details being in another Order.
§ Mr. John Strachey (Dundee, West)
If it was in order for the Minister to announce this transfer of functions to the Ministry of Health, then, with great respect, it must be in order for us to question him about it and to make references to it.
§ Mr. Willey
Surely the position is that the Order transfers to the new Minister the food and drugs powers, but the right hon. Gentleman has forewarned us that he may have acted prematurely and that this will be rectified in due course.
§ Mr. Crookshank
I am obliged to the hon. Gentleman. I thought that I had made the point clear myself. I can confirm that the Order transfers the function of the Ministry of Food to my right hon. Friend. I was indicating to the House that some of them were not going to stay there permanently but that they would move away from him under another order. Whether it is in order to discuss any part of that it is not for me to say, but I know that my right hon. Friend would be prepared to answer any questions which are in order.
The other major point is what happens about Scotland. Under the First Schedule certain functions are directly transferred to the Secretary of State, and in Part II of that Schedule there are some functions, not very numerous, which have to be dealt with jointly, because, broadly speaking, they are United Kingdom matters. For example, they include anything which might occur with regard to international agreements, and so on.
The title which is proposed for the new Minister—and which will be found in the Order—of Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, has no sinister meaning. It runs rather better with the words put in that order and does not mean that agriculture, fisheries or food have any particular precedence or importance in my right hon. Friend's view, the one with the other. It is the historic way of describing the Department, and we hope that it will be acceptable to the House and to all those who have to use a rather cumbrous terminology. That is almost—
§ Mr. Crookshank
That may be, but the Ministry of Agriculture was long established before the Ministry of Food came into the picture in 1939. I hope, therefore, that the House will accept this draft Order as an improvement on the organisational problems of these two Departments.
I do not think that the House should take leave of the Ministry of Food without paying regard to and expressing its great appreciation for all those who have worked in it, whether as Ministers or civil servants: whether in London or the provinces, in Scotland or up and down the country. It is interesting to recall that the first Minister of Food was Mr. Speaker, and that during the existence of the Department many most competent Ministers, who made great reputations in their job, have held office. I do not exclude from that list my right hon. and gallant Friend the present Home Secretary—who was, in fact, the last Food Minister—and my right hon. Friend, who has been in the dual capacity for the last few months.
Though the work that had to be done was hard, and very often there were difficulties in the contacts which the officers in that Department had to make with the general public through all these years, everyone will recognise that we should thank them for their services; and whether they stay on in the new amalgamated Department, or find occupations elsewhere, we wish them well in the future. I am quite certain, and my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister who instituted it is also quite certain, that the change is in the best interests of the economy in the public service and to the smooth working and handling of the problems with which my right hon. Friend will in future be concerned. I commend this draft Order in Council to the House and hope that it will be accepted.
§ 8.2 p.m.
§ Mr. Glenvil Hall (Colne Valley)
I thought that the Lord Privy Seal, when he began, was treating this matter in too light-hearted a fashion. After all, we are tonight dissolving a great Ministry. Its functions, as he admitted later, are still very considerable and are absolutely essential to the life of the community. They are now to be distributed, mostly to the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, but some to the Secretary of State for Scotland.
126 Tonight, therefore, we are attending a funeral; and looking at the number of hon. Members occupying the benches opposite, it seems to me that the demise of this great Department is causing no dismay or regret and no grief on that side of the House.
The Lord Privy Seal said that his right hon. Friend is a big man, and that he is already doing the work which this Order will transfer to him. The right hon. Gentleman has forgotten the hon. Member for Luton (Dr. Hill), the Parliamentary Secretary. During the last few months, at any rate, the hon. Member for Luton has answered—I will not say answered so much as done his best to answer—most of the Questions put to his Ministry in this House. I have always watched him in action with the greatest of interest. He is one of the few examples of the fact that W. S. Gilbert occasionally slipped. We all remember the lines from " Iolanthe ":That every boy and every galThat's born into the world aliveIs either a little LiberalOr else a little Conservative!The hon. Member for Luton has on the last two occasions at one and the same time fought an election both as a Liberal and a Conservative. I believe that he has also, on other occasions, fought as a national candidate and an independent. At any rate, he has combined in his own person a good many different political colours. We are sorry to see his Ministry go—even though it would have meant, had it stayed, that we should have had to have the hon. Member as Parliamentary Secretary answering Questions for a little while longer.
The death of this Department was announced by the Prime Minister last October. We on this side of the House had hoped that the pause since would have given time for the Government to examine what they were doing a little more closely, and perhaps to have had second thoughts about it. We consider this action of the Government to be reactionary and short-sighted. Whatever the solution may be, the one proposed seems to us quite wrong. For example, on the narrowest view, that of economy both in staff and, I take it, in Ministers as well, it is clearly wrong to transfer all the numerous activities of the Ministry to this one Department.
127 Since this Order was printed the Government have discovered that in one direction, at any rate, they are making a mistake. I should like to think that they will realise that they have made other mistakes, when they are pointed out, as I have no doubt my hon. Friends will point them out, before the conclusion of this debate, and that they will then be willing to take back this Order and reconsider it. There are quite a number of functions of the present Ministry which should not go to the Minister of Agriculture. The right hon. Gentleman himself mentioned the International Sugar and Wheat Agreements which, if they are to leave the Ministry of Food, should go to the Board of Trade. Then there is the food and drug legislation which it has been pointed out, and which, as the right hon. Gentleman was good enough himself to confess, should not go to the Ministry of Agriculture but to the Ministry of Health.
I am glad that the right hon. Gentleman paid tribute to this Ministry, but I thought that his references were not as generous as they might have been. We cannot let a great Department like this go without paying the highest possible tribute to the wonderful work it has done over the last fifteen years. It was set up at the beginning of the war, and there is not the slightest doubt that it has proved of inestimable value to the community as a whole. It played a remarkable and a magnificent part in the victory achieved by the allies. It may be that without it the result of the war might have been different.
Food control was also instituted during the 1914–18 war, but, as the right hon. Gentleman and other hon. Members will recall, it was not then nearly so thorough or so prolonged. This time the Ministry has been retained for nearly ten years after the end of hostilities, and I am sure everyone will agree that it has had an enormous effect on the health and welfare of the nation. Bulk buying, price control and rationing of essential foods in short supply, and their even distribution, has helped to keep the cost of living lower than in almost anywhere else in Europe and in the United States. It is disquieting to reflect that it took a world conflict of the magnitude of the last war to ensure the setting up of machinery to see that 128 the under-privileged at least got enough to eat.
There is no doubt that the health of the community, and particularly that of the children, is today infinitely better than when the Ministry was founded. I was told quite recently that a great teaching hospital in the provinces was anxious to show its students a case of rickets. Rickets, as we know, is a disease of malnutrition. It hunted through the whole broad county in which the hospital was situated, but was unable anywhere to find a case. It is certain that the work of the Ministry of Food, in association, of course, with the Labour Governments of 1945–51, and that since carried on by the present Government, has helped to bring about that result.
§ Mr. Beresford Craddock (Spelthorne)
I am sure the right hon. Gentleman will agree that the milk in schools scheme of 1934 has played an important part in the health of the children.
§ Mr. Glenvil Hall
I am glad that the hon. Gentleman has reminded us of that scheme in which, if I may be allowed to say so, the Labour Party of the time played a very notable part.
I believe that all parties can take a pride in, and can share the feeling of satisfaction at, the fact that this Ministry has helped in the way that it has. Government supporters may believe that we on this side of the House oppose this Order simply because we believe in rationing, and that we want to see rationing reimposed. That is not so. In fact, " Challenge to Britain " makes it quite plain that we neither believe in rationing for its own sake nor in rationing by the purse, which sometimes takes its place.
The fact is that, during their tenure of office, the last Labour Government de-rationed a very wide range of commodities, and, had they been returned in 1951, there is not the slightest doubt that the work then begun would have been continued. After all, in spite of whatever the right hon. Gentleman may say, it was the planning and the ground work done by the Labour Governments of 1945–51 which made possible much of the de-rationing which has since taken place.
The policy of the Labour Party is to bring the basic foods within the reach of all, and to establish and maintain high standards of national nutrition. That is 129 stated in " Challenge to Britain." I repeat this deliberately, because we believe that that policy is one which is essential for the future welfare of the country. Surely, no hon. Member opposite could find anything wrong with a policy of that kind. It is a policy which all parties in the State should follow.
If, therefore, the party opposite also believes that we have to establish and maintain high standards of national nutrition, then it follows that we must have an instrument inside the Government, a Department, through which such a policy can be implemented. We do not believe that it is possible for the Minister of Agriculture, with all the work that he has on his plate, to attend as he should to these additional duties and activities. For that reason, if for no other, we think that the Government should look at this matter again to see whether, until a permanent solution has been worked out, it would not be better to continue the present Department in being.
I know that the vast majority of hon. Members opposite have never believed in the Ministry of Food. To them it has been an unfortunate, but necessary, wartime device not to be endured in time of peace for a moment longer than necessary. To us, the Ministry of Food has a positive function which is as essential in peace as it is in war. It is true that two of the major tasks of that Ministry have now gone. Bulk-buying has largely disappeared, and, of course, the administration of rationing has also come to an end.
These activities, however, are not the only ones upon which the Ministry has been engaged. As the right hon. Gentleman said, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food gave us—I think it was on 14th April—quite a long list, which ran into double figures. of the functions which the Ministry still performed, most of which were highly important and essential to the life of the community.
The right hon. Gentleman is not only Minister of Agriculture, but he is also in charge of Crown lands. He is Minister of Fisheries. He has a great deal to do with afforestation—he is the Minister in charge of woods and forests—and now, on top of all these quite considerable tasks, he is to take on quite blithely the functions still remaining to the Ministry of Food. We think it absurd for the 130 Government to imagine that, capable and extremely energetic though the right hon. Gentleman may be, he can also deal with these matters. It is asking him to take on too much.
A great change has taken place since the days before the war, when many people might have supposed that a Ministry of Food was unlikely to be of much assistance to the community, or to find very much to do. For some time now, Parliament has become increasingly aware that the country has lagged behind others in the standards of cleanliness that it lays down for shops, restaurants, cafés and other places where food is prepared and sold. Not long ago, we had the Food and Drugs Act, and quite a number of Questions have been asked in Parliament on this subject.
The Regulations which are being laid under the Food and Drugs Act are either to be enforced or they are not. If they are, then we should like the Government to say so in order that we may know where we are. The country is now insisting more and more on cleanliness in the preparation and sale of its food, and, as time goes on, the Government must increasingly do more to see that certain minimum standards of hygiene are enforced. Naturally, all this work should be done by the Ministry of Food, or some other analogous Department if it is decided that the Ministry is not necessary. One thing is clear, however, and that is that it ought not to be a mere sideshow of the Minister of Agriculture, who, as we all know, already has his hands very full.
A further consideration which weighs with hon. Members on this side of the House is that increasingly, and very properly, nations are becoming more and more preoccupied with food supplies and the eradication of diseases due to low nutritional standards. Populations are increasing and standards of living are rising among the backward peoples of the world. Food shortages are threatened unless world supplies are not only planned for, but vastly increased.
We now have the Food and Agriculture Organisation, the World Health Organisation and other international bodies concentrating on these problems. It seems to us that a proper Department should be set up to co-operate in this 131 work, and that it should not be left as a sort of overtime job for the Minister of Agriculture. This side of the national life not only needs a Department to deal with it but, as it is likely to increase, such a Department would find itself expanding as the years went by.
Hon. Members on this side of the House therefore feel that they must oppose the Order. They do so because it is a lazy and half-baked solution, which is unfair to all concerned. It tips into the lap of one, or at most two, Ministers, a number of functions with which they can have no possible concern. It is unfair to consumers generally, whose interests are quite frankly sacrificed, and it is unfair to the farming community in that it will now be concerned with an overworked Department with divided loyalties. For these and other reasons, which I have not the slightest doubt my hon. Friends will deploy during the debate, we oppose the Order.
§ 8.21 p.m.
§ Mr. Anthony Hurd (Newbury)
The right hon. Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Glenvil Hall) has been leading us along a false trail. The Order does not propose that the Ministry of Food shall be swallowed up by the Ministry of Agriculture. It proposes a joint Ministry to look after matters concerning agriculture, fisheries and food. It is quite logical that food is put last in the name of the new Department, because food has to be produced before it can be distributed.
Is it necessary to have a separate Ministry of Food today? If we were to follow the advice given by hon. Members opposite only recently, in the debate upon the cost of living, we should have to have the control of prices which, in the view of many of my hon. Friends, would inevitably lead to the allocation of supplies to distributors and then to ration books.
I quite see that a Ministry of Food would be needed if one pursued that policy, but it is not necessary with the policy now being pursued by Her Majesty's Government. We do not believe in the control of prices; we believe in encouraging enterprise in order to have more food brought into the country from abroad, and encouraging every possible effort to produce more food at home. The mechanism of supply and demand is 132 operated very largely by the purchasing power of the public, which is now at a record high level.
If we believe that this is the right system of safeguarding our supplies of food and providing a freedom of choice for our people, we do not need a separate Ministry of Food.
§ Mr. Coldrick (Bristol, North-East)
The hon. Member accuses my right hon. Friend of being in favour of controlled prices, and apparently indicates that he is not. Am I to understand that he and his hon. Friends are not in favour of guaranteed prices for agricultural products? What is the difference between a guaranteed price and a controlled price?
§ Mr. Hurd
I shall not be deterred from my line of argument. I am discussing the necessity, in these days, for maintaining a Department of State known as the Ministry of Food.
I say that in present circumstances, and with the present Government, I do not see the necessity for it. The Opposition might find it necessary if they form a Government in the future, because their policy is very different from ours. If I read aright the marketing policy put forward by the Labour Party, a Ministry of Food certainly would be needed, because somebody would have to procure all the imported food, take over home production, and marry the two.
Those are not the circumstances under which Her Majesty's present Government propose to work. There is a great deal to be said for amalgamating the Ministry of Food with the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries. I do not say that the Ministry of Food should be swallowed up, but that food production, the safeguarding of the distribution of food, and consumers' interests should be the concern of one Department.
There were many occasions, when the right hon. Member for Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams) was Minister of Agriculture —and, perhaps, when his predecessor was in office—when the views of the Minister of Food did not make for a concerted policy. Many unnecessary ructions occurred between the right hon. Member and the Minister of Food. They were, of course, resolved at Cabinet level. That was in the days of the war, and in the days of controls which immediately 133 followed it. In those days there may have been a need for a separate Department. Today, however, with the present policy of Her Majesty's Government—which is producing the right results for the consumers and the country—I do not see the need for a separate Department. I therefore fully support the proposal to join the Ministry of Food with the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries.
§ 8.37 p.m.
§ Mr. Frederick Willey (Sunderland, North)
The hon. Member for Newbury (Mr. Hurd) has not dealt with one of the essential problems facing the Government, namely, how to implement the policy of guaranteed prices while they have behind them back benchers with a doctrinaire belief in the free market. The Government must decide how much of the taxpayers' money can go into the free market. That is their problem, and that is what is disturbing the farming community, which knows that things cannot go on as they are at present.
I would also say to the hon. Member that the question is not whether there should be price control; we have price control now. Nearly all foodstuffs are subject to price controls. Nearly every day we read of grocers having their supplies withheld because they are not charging the customers the controlled prices. All that my hon. Friends and I wish to do is to see that those controlled prices are reduced.
I join the Leader of the House in paying a tribute to the Ministry of Food. As he is now in office we can both be equally responsible and recognise the enormous amount of work which that Department has done. I speak rather nostalgically, however, because I know that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food will never be the same man after this amalgamation. In the past, he has been a vigorous free marketeer; now he will be rather like a prisoner.
As for the Minister, I recall that in our last debate he described himself as a rabbit. As far as the rabbit of food is concerned, it has myxomatosis. That is a very contagious disease, and I do not think that he has any chance as far as the rabbit of agriculture is concerned.
I merely mention this to call attention to the present dicotomy of one person being two Ministers. He was good enough to come to the House on Friday, 134 and we respect him for this, to apologise for having misled the House on figures relating to National Savings. These were not the only figures that were incorrect. On 11th March, we discussed agriculture and agricultural production, and, referring to the previous year, he then said:Although net output is slightly down—by two points."—[OFFICIAL, REPORT, 11th March, 1955; Vol. 538, c. 849.]When we were discussing agriculture last Wednesday, and I referred to his previous speech, when he replied to me, he said:…last year was an absolute record for the years since the war, not only for gross but for net output…."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 23rd March, 1955; Vol. 538, c. 2105.]If output is 2 per cent. down on the previous year, I do not know how it can be a record.
§ The Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries (Mr. Heathcoat Amory)
The year it was 2 per cent. down was not the last year but the current year.
§ Mr. Willey
If the output is 2 per cent. down—and I was referring to that output when I referred to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman—I presume that when he challenged me and dealt with agriculture he was referring to the same year, but I am much obliged to him for the correction he has given.
As I say, I am sure that the whole House will appreciate the right hon. Gentleman's correction of figures he gave for National Savings, and I am glad that we have now been able to clear up the position regarding agricultural production. We now recognise that whatever the cause agricultural production has, unfortunately, fallen.
The first substantial point which I make on this Order is that this is not a dissolution of the Ministry of Food at all. When the Estimates show an expenditure for the coming financial year of £287 million, and when, as the right hon. Gentleman has said, there is an establishment of over 5,500 we are not talking about dissolution in any real sense. This, of course, has been done for political reasons, to create the impression that the Government have carried out what they conveyed they would carry out at the last General Election—dissolve the Ministry of Food. When we consider a permanent establishment of 5,500 engaged on permanent work, the Government really have to admit failure and that they have not 135 by any means dissolved the Ministry of Food.
In fact, there is a very substantial establishment left. I agree with my right hon. Friend that the first question here is whether this amalgamation is not creating an establishment which is far too large purely from an establishment point of view. At any rate, we have the recognition of the Government that the Ministry of Food unavoidably is, none the less, doing important work and that it cannot be disregarded.
Let us turn—because the Department will for the moment remain whether under the umbrella of the Minister of Agriculture or not—from its establishment and the size of its expenditure to its functions. The right hon. Gentleman anticipated being in difficulties about the functions of the Ministry of Food. That is why he said, in effect, " We have, of course, acted prematurely. There may be an election. We want to say that we have the Ministry of Food out of the way, but we are not really as silly as we would appear to be." Of course, no one would think of putting food and drugs under an agricultural production department.
Let us consider some of the other functions. Let us consider what are the present divisions of the Ministry of Food. There is a defence plans division, which is responsible for stockpiling, and the Government, in spite of being for private enterprise, have to recognise that the only way to build up stocks in this country is on Government responsibility. As Professor Keynes said, " The competitive system abhors the existence of stocks."
I know that the Parliamentary Secretary realises that his Department is already in trouble with stocks, but I am sure that he would agree that if we are to have stockpiling of food it must be carried out as a Governmental responsibility. That has nothing to do with the Ministry of Agriculture. It is now conceded, I gather, that the food hygiene division has functions which have nothing to do with the Minister of Agriculture, and that most of the work they carry out will be in association with the local authorities.
We shall have to have a Ministry which has some proper channels of association with the local authorities. I asked 136 the right hon. Gentleman about that, and I am not at all surprised that he did not know the answer. I do not know, and the House does not know, whether this is a clean transference of the food hygiene division to the Ministry of Health. I gather that he said we were to have two food hygiene divisions, one under the Ministry of Health and one under the Ministry of Agriculture and that the Minister of Agriculture would be spokesmen for both of the Ministries and the Minister of Health would act as office boy to send out directives to the local authorities. That is not good administration or good economy.
What about the food standards and labelling division? This is the division which has close and friendly associations with the food trade. I am glad to see that the Minister is nodding his agreement. The last thing that the food trade wants is to be dealt with by the Ministry of Agriculture. That is well-known throughout the trade, so I do not see the purpose of upsetting these good relations.
I come to the welfare foods division. What has that division to do with the Ministry of Agriculture? What has its personnel to do with the Ministry of Agriculture? It has a very real association with the local authorities, who are asked to administer this scheme. If the argument applies to the food hygiene division or part thereof it applies equally to the whole of the welfare foods division.
There is the scientific division and the various divisions that centre round it, and who are all primarily concerned with food from the consumers' point of view. They are scientific people. Again, it is inappropriate and anomalous for them to be placed under the Agricultural Production Department. They have a different outlook. Their scientific inquiry follows a different line, and it will certainly prejudice them to be permanently transferred like this.
In short, if we look at the divisions which comprise this large establishment-1 will come back in a moment to those dealing with deficiency payments—nothing could be more inappropriate than to put them under the Ministry of Agriculture. The right hon. Gentleman was good enough to concede that point, when he said that the origins of all these divisions was in other Departments before the 137 war, that was because it was more appropriate for them to be there. The position we have got to is that it is conceded that a substantial establishment responsible for the administration of a considerable amount of money should continue to exist. If we look at it as an entity, it is far better to leave it as an entity responsible for that administration.
Unless there is an overwhelming case for breaking it up and dividing it, as will eventually happen if this amalgamation is agreed. it will be far more economical and efficient to keep those 5,600 people together. If they are to be removed, it is quite clear from what I have said that they should be removed together. But why should they go to the Ministry of Agriculture?
I will mention some of the other functions on which the Minister touched, such as the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement. The negotiation of that Agreement and its management are quite divorced from the work of the Ministry of Agriculture. There is the International Wheat Agreement. That question still affects us, although we are outside the Agreement. When the Minister referred to the Food and Agriculture Organisation and to the other international organisations, I would remind the House that that is what they are. They are not agricultural organisations, but food and agriculture organisations. They have separate representation and interests, and they are entitled to it.
We have separate interests. We are interested in agricultural production and the procurement of food in this country. We are interested also in the procurement of food outside this country. These are complementary. I concede that point at once. The Government must accept responsibility for reconciling those two interests and ensuring that they work together, but the technical jobs are very different. They are different sorts of people doing different sorts of jobs in different sorts of ways. There is no advantage in putting them together under one Ministry.
There is certainly no case for the dispersal of the establishments. Nor is there a case for their amalgamation with the production Ministry, the Ministry of Agriculture. I can only assume, therefore, that this has been done primarily for political reasons, and that, secondly—and 138 this is not unimportant—it marks the abandonment of the importance of nutritional policy and of welfare food policy by the Government. They dare not abolish it, but they put the establishments responsible for the policy into a Department where they can easily be whittled away in an unsympathetic environment where no one could care less. That is what will happen if the Government remain in power.
I do not think there ought to be conflict between the producer and the consumer. It is largely for that reason that I believe that the producer is entitled to the Ministry of Agriculture as directly and wholly responsible for agricultural production. That is right and proper, and it has worked out well over the past years. If I may give one or two illustrations, I have always taken the view, personally, that the most critical point for any Government's agricultural policy is that of the February Price Review.
That is why I have always held the view that it is essential to have a three-point negotiation. That will now disappear; we shall have simply the producer Department and the Chancellor of the Exchequer. This year we had the extraordinary position of the Chancellor overruling the Minister. That will not happen in this way again. What will happen is that the producer will be unable to stand up to the Chancellor of the Exchequer if there is strong fiscal pressure. On the other hand, if the Ministry of Food, or the Ministry protecting the consumer, agreed with the Ministry of Agriculture, it would be very difficult for any Chancellor of the Exchequer to stand up to these two Departments. I believe, therefore, that as a result of this amalgamation the producer will be in a far more vulnerable position.
Nor can such a job as food imports easily be performed by a production Department. It would be very difficult indeed, if not impossible, for a producer Ministry—properly taking the view of agriculture, not that of the consumer—to give any effective order affecting imports, because it would at once be suspected as a producer Ministry. We have had all this before in the 'thirties. When we are considering food import policy it is better to have separate representation, knowing that if the two Ministries agree they must have a pretty sound case.
139 Another illustration is that of subsidies—well over £300 million. I am taking the aggregate total of subsidies, although we do not know what it will be at the end of the financial year. The position is much better if we have a Ministry of Food as an accounting Department rather than have a producer Ministry. From the producer's point of view, there is every advantage in keeping the Departments separate and great disadvantage in such an amalgamation as this, particularly when it is a surrender to political expediency and doctrinaire pressure from the other side of the House.
What the Government are doing tonight is to abandon a deliberate, conscious food policy. That means that they are abandoning any responsibility for increasing our food supplies. I am critical of the Government because, so far as we can see, we are to be prejudiced so far as food supplies are concerned. I would have hoped that in the light of developments over the past few years we could have got non-partisan agreement that we have to accept Government responsibility for increasing our supplies of food. I am keeping off the controversial subject of bulk purchase, but I should have thought that it would be conceded that any present-day Government must keep in day-to-day consultation with, and be prepared to make agreements with, the Commonwealth and other countries.
The Government are getting us into one mess after another. They are cutting our Australian meat imports and the Australians are cutting imports of British cars. I should have thought it far better to discuss these things and to say, " We realise the increasing pressure of world food prices. As a Government we accept responsibility." They are not accepting the responsibility if they push the Ministry of Food into a separate Department which we know cannot conduct such negotiations. Moreover, by this decision the Government are avoiding any responsibility for consumer protection. It is quite clear from the discussions we have had on the developments taking place that a producer Department is not the appropriate body to provide consumer protection.
140 The Government claim to have been considering this question for three-and-a-half years I would have been much more enheartened if they had come to the House and said, " Our real difficulty is that we believe there is a case for consumer protection, but it means considering a very wide field covering various Departments. For that reason we are not prepared to take any steps at the moment. This amalgamation is purely temporary." They are not doing that, but abandoning the problem. There is a great deal to be said for the case made by many of my hon. Friends. The time has come when again the Government should accept responsibility not only for the procurement of increased supplies from abroad but also for the deliberate, conscious protection of the consumer at home.
Finally, as my right hon. Friend said, this is the end of any nutritional policy. The sort of cavalier way in which these divisions have been dealt with, saying, " They go to Agriculture, but those that do not fit will be shuffled off somewhere else; we do not mind where they go," must disturb the Parliamentary Secretary. I should have thought that by this stage both sides of the House would have recognised the importance of a nutritional policy. It is all very disturbing.
The right hon. Gentleman is a very skilled Parliamentarian. He made a few remarks and smiled benignly on us all. I know just what he is doing. He is carrying out a major change of policy. He is giving way to back-bench pressure of hon. Members who are embarrassed because they stumped to the hustings saying, " We will abolish the Ministry of Food." He as abandoning a good policy for this country, abandoning the consumer and prejudicing the farmer. The farmer, if he should suffer the misfortune of this Government continuing in office, will soon learn that this set-up will not protect him.
§ 8.49 p.m.
§ Mr. A. Blenkinsop (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, East)
I take the view that the Order we are discussing is no more than a provisional Order. I want to know why the Government have not been able to make up their mind to deal with the whole matter and bring it before the House instead of dealing with one section and 141 telling us they intend to deal with some other sections later.
It seems quite extraordinary when we are presented with an Order which dissolves the Ministry of Food and transfers its responsibility to the Ministry of Agriculture that we should at one and the same time be told that some of the functions are not to stay with the Ministry of Agriculture. Why have the Government not presented to us the full picture in this Order tonight? Is there any particular reason why, when they decided that an Order of this nature had to come before the House, they should not have included in it the full provisions making clear the whole of the intentions of the Government in this matter?
Surely the Government cannot pretend that this is a matter of so much urgency that this rather slipshod Order has to be forced upon us and that we must accept it. The Government have been considering this matter for long enough, and as far as the general public is concerned there is no particular reason why the Order should be presented at this moment, except, as my right hon. Friend suggested, for purely political and electioneering purposes, which can only suggest that the Government have made their decision as to the date of a future General Election and that this is part of the stock in trade of that campaign.
But when we are told, as we have been told by the Lord Privy Seal, that there is to be further consideration of the way in which certain of the very important functions of the Ministry of Food shall be dealt with, and when we are told that there will be another Order to deal with that aspect, it is perfectly fair and proper that we should ask why these two issues should not be dealt with together so that the House should have a proper and complete picture of the Government's intentions.
I was glad to hear the Government, through the right hon. Gentleman, say that the hygiene functions of the Ministry of Food as at present administered were to be transferred, if this change goes through, to the Ministry of Health. But I was not at all clear, and presumably the Government are not very clear either, otherwise they would have made up their minds and let us know what the position was.
I noticed that the right hon. Gentleman said not only that the Minister of Health 142 was to have responsibility for the hygiene section, but also that the Minister of Agriculture, as I understood it, was to be responsible for the composition of food to safeguard health. I do not know how the right hon. Gentleman will explain that one away. If we are told that the hygiene functions are to be split off from the new Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and are to go to the Minister of Health and then we are told, " But the matters dealing with the composition of food to safeguard health will not go to the Minister of Health," the House is entitled to a better explanation than we have had so far about the Government's intention.
If the Government are still in travail on this matter, as they might well be—I do not pretend that it is an easy matter to settle—why did they not carry on with their discussions until the matter was settled and clear in their own minds? It is somewhat hard to expect the House to make up its mind' and to be presented with this change when the Government themselves do not know what they are talking about.
A matter of great importance to us all is that when it comes to be decided how these functions are to be distributed, it is obviously vital that we should accept that the Ministry of Health is not merely concerned with the curative problems of health. Plenty of us, on both sides of the House, have argued often enough that one of the most important aspects of health is on the positive side—and clean food is one of the positive sides of health. I think everyone would agree with that, even the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food, if that is still his correct title.
The Parliamentary Secretary would agree also that it is very important that in considering the future functions and responsibilities of the Ministry of Health, this positive preventive aspect should not in any way be whittled away. I mention this because it is a matter which has been discussed to some extent already in local authority circles and it seems clear that the local authorities are anxious about the future.
After all, who is it who does this work? It is mainly the sanitary inspector and his staff. Is it not right that we should let him and the others know to which Ministry they are to be responsible? Is it 143 not absurd that we should be going half-cock on this question, with only half the story brought to us? I protest that it is utterly wrong for the Government to present this matter to us in this way. It would have been far better to have waited longer, even to the inconvenience of the election arrangements of the right hon. Gentleman, and to have presented this House, the responsible body, with a full story of what the Government intend to do.
§ 8.56 p.m.
§ Mr. George Darling (Sheffield, Hillsborough)
I am sorry that the hon. Gentleman the Member for Newbury (Mr. Hurd) is not here, because I would like to say to him that if I were a farmer I should be sorry to see these consumer protection services of the Ministry of Food buried in the Ministry of Agriculture. The farmers must realise that it will be the consumer pressure for proper abattoirs, for cold stores, for food-canning and preserving plants, for creameries, for all the secondary agricultural activities that will give the farming community the prosperity which it ought to have without subsidies, without taxation going into the pockets of the farmers. I can see no drive for that kind of development for the benefit of agriculture coming from the Ministry of Agriculture with the Ministry of Food associated with it and buried there.
The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House, in introducing this Motion: did not give us the complete history of the Ministry of Food. It started before that Ministry began. It started in the Food (Defence Plans) Department of the Board of Trade; Mr. Speaker was there to see that the plans were started—
§ Mr. G. Darling
But Mr. Speaker then took it over, and one of the most disgraceful episodes in British political life was the way Mr. Speaker's successor at the Ministry of Food took all the credit for the work of his predecessor without giving any credit to the man who did all the planning and all the preliminary work. However, that is typical of the handling by the Conservative Party of this question of looking after the food of the people. They have always regarded the Ministry 144 of Food as a purely defensive and almost negative administration, as if it had a negative function to fulfil and only when food was scarce was there any real need for the Ministry.
As my hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey) said, there are a number of functions inside the Ministry of Food which cannot find any place in the Ministry of Agriculture, which is concerned with looking after the interests of the farmers and of the farming community, if that Ministry is to do the job properly.
The functions mentioned are not of minor importance but of considerable importance. The responsibility for implementing such statutes as the Food and Drugs Act is an important one even if it is to be split and the job of looking after food hygiene is to remain in the Ministry of Agriculture. There are other important jobs which are to be taken over from the Ministry of Food which ought not to become the secondary concern of any other Ministry because they are of primary importance if the consumer interest of this country is to be looked after.
It ought to be recognised by now that, as was mentioned in the debate last week, if we could bring together the consumer protection services of a number of Ministries into one Department, we should be doing a good job of work for the people. If that is impracticable with the present Government in office, as it undoubtedly is, we ought to go back to the situation that we had before the Ministry of Food was started, and the functions that grew out of the Food (Defence Plans) Department of the Board of Trade ought to go back into a special department of the Board of Trade. I am convinced that neither the producer nor the consumer will derive any benefit if these functions become the responsibility purely of a producers' administration inside the Government.
All the people in the country are concerned in this in respect of their health and well-being. The nutritional policy which has built up our people is now at stake, because the Minister of Agriculture cannot concern himself, except by doing things which the farmers do not want him to do, with all the big jobs of consumer protection, looking after the health and welfare of the people, for which the Ministry of Food was responsible. It is a mistake to get rid of the Ministry of 145 Food, but if it has to be got rid of because its functions have declined, it ought to go, not to the Ministry of Agriculture, but somewhere where consumers' interests can be looked after.
§ 9.2 p.m.
§ Mr. William Ross (Kilmarnock)
Listening to the debate, I have come to the conclusion that this is not so much the dissolution of a Ministry as the dispersal of its functions. The Government's attitude to the problem has been dictated more than anything else by the pressing need to find something to speak about when it comes to a General Election in relation to the pledges which they have given.
I do not think there is the slightest doubt that the functions of the Ministry of Food, the growth of which we saw during the war, have considerably diminished, but I should have thought that a Government which was interested in the well-being of the people would have been concerned not so much about the dispersal of the Ministry's functions as relating the Ministry and its functions to present-day needs. The community has a pressing need today for a Ministry which will adequately look after the food of the people in the sense of its standard and adequacy, not only in relation to the work actually done by the Minister of Agriculture and the Secretary of State for Scotland, but also in relation to the wider aspect of the procurement of food, and the procurement of the right kind of food. I am disappointed that the Government have missed a great opportunity for nutritional advance.
To a great extent I am in sympathy with some of my English colleagues. They are very much concerned about what is to happen to, say, the hygiene functions of the Ministry when they pass in the first place to the Minister of Agriculture and later to the Minister of Health. In Scotland we have not got that problem because the functions will go to the Secretary of State.
However, in that respect we have another problem. My English colleagues are concerned in that the Minister of Agriculture already has agriculture to look after. What about the Secretary of State for Scotland? He has to be the Minister of Health for Scotland, the Minister of Housing and Local Government, the Minister of Education and the 146 Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries. He has special responsibility for the Highlands and road development in the Highlands. The Government have recently transferred to him responsibility for Scottish roads and transport. There is also to be transferred to him the question of electricity generation and distribution in Scotland as well as responsibilities for J.P.s and animal diseases and the whole question of the Home Department. There are at least five Ministers who sit on the Government Front Bench answering my English and Welsh colleagues on various subjects. The Secretary of State for Scotland is responsible for every one of those things in Scotland and is now to be given a new task.
How can it be wondered that I am concerned whether or not this will be adequately done in Scotland? I notice that in paragraph 3 (a) and (b) some attention is paid to the Minister's retinue. He may have three Under-Secretaries to do the work of that one Ministry. I have related all the Departments in Scotland, and we already have three under-Secretaries. Who will do the additional work? It is little wonder that one of the Joint Under-Secretaries of State for Scotland has announced that he is not to stand at the next General Election. If he had not made up his mind he would quickly have done so on reading this Order and seeing what he was expected to do. Adequate attention will not be paid to the different functions that are being transferred. Scotland already has a Department of Agriculture. Are we to have a Department of Food? I gather that we are.
What will happen? Which one of the Joint Under-Secretaries will look after it? Will it be the one who at present looks after local government, health and housing, or will it be the Joint Under-Secretary who is responsible for agriculture and fisheries? The Government should at least have taken stock of the problem in Scotland and told us how the Order was to apply in Scotland. That would have been better than the speech made by the Leader of the House, who obviously did not know very much about the Order, in general, and nothing about its application to Scotland, in particular.
The Order will mean one of two things for Scotland. Firstly there will be inadequate Ministerial supervision over these new duties that are being passed to the 147 Scottish Office. We have pretty well reached breaking point at the moment, because there are so many functions dealt with by one Scottish Minister that every additional function is a growth of bureaucracy, of the power of the civil servant, because the Secretary of State for Scotland cannot adequately cope with this wide range of functions, even with three Under-Secretaries. Since those three Under-Secretaries were appointed, many other functions have been put upon them. That is one possibility. The other possibility is that responsibility for many of these things, with which we are told the Minister of Agriculture and the Secretary of State for Scotland could jointly deal, will really fall to the Minister of Agriculture, and Scotland will play a pretty shadowy part in that joint activity.
Quite apart from the remaining functions of the Ministry of Food, including the still outstanding wartime functions which have not been specified, functions relating to trading in food are entirely transferred to the Minister of Agriculture. Scottish farmers will be concerned about that. Trading in food and the importing of food by the Government for immediate need or strategic reasons are matters that concern Scottish farmers.
However, these matters will be dealt with without any consultation with Scottish farmers by the Minister of Agriculture. Certainly no provision for any consultation is laid down in the Order. The Order fails in two ways. It fails to rise to the national need when we still require a Ministry of Food directing its policy in a positive way to increasing the amount and quality of food that the people in this country are getting, especially now we have gone back to the much vaunted free enterprise system. Secondly, the Order in itself obviously will not work satisfactorily. This is not the dissolution of the Ministry, it is the dispersal of the Ministry in such a way that the administration, in the outcome, will be thoroughly inefficient.
§ 9.10 p.m.
§ Mr. John Strachey (Dundee, West)
My right hon. Friend the Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Glenvil Hall), announcing our dissent from the Motion, said that we were present at the obsequies of the Ministry of Food. I do not think that anyone who had the honour 148 of being Minister of Food could let the occasion pass without saying a word in tribute to the work of that Ministry, not under any particular Minister, in the war period, in the post-war period and right up to the present day.
I am sure that the present Minister will acquit me of any intention of making a party point when I say that, as was the case in the First World War also, it was the post-war period which was the most difficult, as usually happens in the case of food in great wars. But, both in the war and in the post-war period, everyone who saw the work of that Ministry was enormously impressed by the tremendous devotion which its staff gave to their difficult and sometimes awkward duties. I do not know who to praise most, the regular civil servants who worked themselves almost to a standstill in that task, or the business men who took such an active part in the war-time and post-war periods. They both did extraordinary work, and I do not think that we could let this occasion pass without saying so.
On the whole, I take the view that it would not be right to suggest that the Ministry of Food, certainly in its old original form, should continue indefinitely. The time has come when probably we want some change in the administrative arrangements, but that is quite different from saying that we want the change that is proposed. Certainly, we on this side of the House are totally opposed to the reimposition of what was, numerically, the biggest task of the Ministry. We are totally opposed to the reimposition of rationing. Our only difference with the Government there is that we go a good deal further than they do, because we are opposed to all forms of rationing, including financial rationing—rationing by the purse.
Therefore, that alone will change the functions of any future body, call it what you will, which we think necessary to fulfil some, though by no means all, the old functions of the Ministry of Food. What do we think ought to be done? I heard the Leader of the House argue that it was essential to place the remaining functions of the Ministry of Food in the hands of one man, but he entirely spoiled that argument by promptly announcing that the Order that does that is to be followed by another one which takes some of those functions out of the hands of this 149 one man, the Minister of Agriculture, and puts them into the hands of the Minister of Health.
Be that as it may, we do not think that the Minister of Agriculture—I do not mean the present holder of the office particularly, but any Minister of Agriculture —is the right man into whose hands all these functions should go. It has been pointed out that he is one of the hardest worked and hardest pressed Ministers in the Government today. To put on his shoulders and into his hands the miscellany of functions not directly connected with his main functions is open to great objection.
I expect right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite feel that there is something more behind our objection to these functions going to the Minister of Agriculture. I think it right to say, frankly, that there is something more. At any rate, there is in my mind. I believe that the Minister of Agriculture is, and should be, essentially a producers' man. The farmers and agricultural producers should have the most powerful representation in the Government. We on this side of the House are far from supposing that the laws of supply and demand, referred to by the hon. Member for Newbury (Mr. Hurd), are the right things to which to expose the farmers. If we left the farmers to the laws of supply and demand, they would come off very badly indeed. It would be the worst fate that could befall them in present-day conditions, with the vast aggregation of industrial power, and with competition more and more driving out the so-called private enterprise system in the industrial field.
To leave the scattered small-scale agricultural producers to the laws of supply and demand would be quite ruinous for them. Therefore, we support the view that agriculture should have the strongest possible representation in the Government, and, in the teeth of the surprising views of the hon. Member for Newbury, we support the policy of guaranteed prices. But just because we support all these things so strongly, many of us have great doubts about giving to the representative of consumer interests in the Government the remaining functions of the Ministry of Food essentially concerned with the protection of consumer interests. In the interests of the farmers, I cannot believe that to be a good arrangement.
150 The hon. Member for Newbury said that when there were two Ministers for Agriculture and Food there were ructions between the views of the producer and the consumer. I would not use the word " ructions " about the Government of which I was a member. There were, of course, disputes and differing views, and problems were regarded from different angles. But it is not right that the interests of both consumers and producers should have the same representation. We complain that under this arrangement consumer interests will have lost all representation, and that is a bad scheme. After all, we are paying £270 million a year of the taxpayers' money to the producers. I am not saying that that is wrong, but it is pushing things fairly far. If the agricultural interest tries to sweep away all consumer representation and protection, in the end things will have been pushed too far, and there will be a very strong reaction which I should not wish to see.
I consider it a most unfortunate arrangement by which these remaining, but very important, functions of the Food Ministry are to be placed in the hands of the Minister of Agriculture. If we are against that, we may be challenged to say of what we are in favour. It has been suggested that, alternatively, many of these functions—perhaps all of them —should be put back, as my hon. Friend reminded us, to the Board of Trade, from whence they originally came. In certain cases, that may be quite suitable. In international agreements that might work well enough, but I am not attracted by that solution either. After all, the Board of Trade is one of the vast and most sprawling Departments. The right hon. Gentleman opposite knows it well, having served there. To add another great section to it seems to be a very doubtful policy.
Without claiming for one moment that my mind is made up at this stage, I must say that I have been attracted by the suggestion made by many hon. Members on this side of the House who have associations with the Co-operative movement, in particular, for a new Ministry to be called the " Ministry of Consumers' Welfare," or something of that sort, which should inherit these essentially consumer functions of the Ministry of Food, and should add to them the functions for the protection of the consumer over the widest pos- 151 sible field, not only in food, because food is only one of the things which people consume.
In this age of trusts, of retail price maintenance, of courts which are not courts of law but private courts administering rules and regulations laid down by private organisations in their own interests and against, prima facie at any rate, the interests of the consumer, in an age where competition is very rapidly draining out of the economic system in the industrial field, I think that some such Ministry as that—of which the functions of the Ministry of Food would form the nucleus—for the protection of the consumer is, at any rate at first hearing, a very attractive idea.
We believe, therefore, that while something ought to be done, the Government are doing almost exactly the wrong thing in this Order. In the most inappropriate fashion, they are placing these consumer functions in the hands of what is, and what ought to be, a producers' Ministry. We ask the Government to think again very carefully about the matter, and, in particular, to consider the suggestion of a new Ministry especially entrusted with the consumers' interests, which seems to me to have much to commend it.
§ 9.24 p.m.
§ The Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries and Minister of Food (Mr. Heathcoat Amory)
In introducing this Order my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House reminded us of the reasons which have led the Government to propose to merge these two Departments, and therefore I need not now repeat those reasons. As my right hon. Friend also said, I have assisted in what I will call the ceremonial leavetaking to the separate existence of the Ministry of Pensions, the Ministry of Materials, and now of the Department which we are discussing today. I also assisted at the obsequies of the Raw Cotton Commission. I am beginning to regard myself as a sort of assistant liquidator, and, possibly, as an assistant undertaker.
In the service of the Government. However, I do not think that we need look on this as a gloomy occasion. In one sense, I consider that 152 we are celebrating the end of the need for food controls and rationing. In another sense, it is not a funeral but a marriage which we are celebrating—and, I think, a marriage between two parties who are well suited to one another. It is a marriage in which the two parties are unlikely to fall out and also—something, I am informed, which is not invariably the case in human marriages—one which will be a means to economy.
The last major surgical operation with which the Department of Agriculture was concerned took place in 1919, when the Board of Agriculture was turned into a Ministry, and the Minister, in defending that change in this House, said:The Board itself is a perfectly ineffectual body, which consists, no doubt, of very eminent persons, such as all His Majesty's Principal Secretaries of State. It has met whenever it has been summoned, but as it has never been summoned the effect of its meetings has not been very great."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 27th November, 1919; Vol. 121, c. 1956.]If we had such a board at the present time I think I could guarantee that there would be enough work to necessitate its having plenty of meetings.
I was very glad to hear the tributes which the right hon. Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Glenvil Hall) and the right hon. Member for Dundee, West (Mr. Strachey) paid to the Ministry of Food and its staff. It has been in existence for 15 years, and I should like to join with those right hon. Gentlemen in paying a sincere tribute to its achievements in the nation's service. I have been responsible for the Department only for a few months, and as I have had no credit for its achievements I feel that I can pay that tribute. The foundations were laid by the small Food (Defence Plans) Department, and at the outbreak of war a hastily improvised staff was called upon to play a crucial part in the war economy and, under novel and trying conditions, to sustain what very quickly became a vast trading organisation.
I think that the House will wish to recall the success which the Department had. Under the skilful and vigorous leadership of my noble Friend Lord Woolton it met a great challenge, and we know what a contribution it made to sustaining morale in those dark days, when the public never doubted that its ration coupons would be honoured. Then, with the end of the war, as time 153 went on people became more impatient over rationing and the irksome restrictions of war-time control that still remained. I am sure that my predecessors —on both sides of the House—will join with me in expressing their appreciation of the way in which the staff of the Department carried out its duties in those difficult days during and after the war.
Lately, the Department has had the difficult job of carrying through the task of decontrol with the many problems involved in effecting the considerable transition from Government trading to private enterprise.
§ Mr. F. Beswick (Uxbridge)
Would the right hon. Gentleman be prepared to make a passing reference to the nutritional policy for which the Ministry of Food was responsible? He has spoken about rationing and controls, but they were not the whole of the Ministry's responsibilities.
I shall certainly come to that subject in a moment. I think it is most important, and I gladly pay a tribute to the work which the Department devoted to building it up over the past 15 years.
I should like to comment, too, upon the co-operative spirit which the staff of the Ministry has shown during the rather painful process of running down in the last few years. Of the many thousands that have left the Department as their share of the work has come to an end, the great majority consisted of temporary officers. We should remember the great service that those men and women rendered, both during and after the war, and express our gratitude to them.
In the recent stages of the reduction it has been necessary to disperse about 5,000 established officers who have been serving in the local organisations of the Ministry, and I have been very grateful for the help that we have received from other Government Departments in absorbing those officers. All in all, I am quite certain that the Ministry of Food has performed a difficult job with outstanding success and deserves very well of the nation.
Although in conditions of freedom there is now required little administrative supervision and interference by the Government in the national food supply, I am very anxious that the new Department should continue to maintain the 154 present pleasant and fruitful relations that obtain with the food trades and industries of this country. I should like to acknowledge the debt which we feel we owe to the food trades for the help and co-operation which they have invariably extended to the Department.
I should now like to refer to one argument which has been used this evening—that the interests of the consumer will be sacrificed by this amalgamation. I agree that if that were true it would be a serious objection and, I think, a decisive objection to this merger. But in fact I do not believe that there is substance in that argument. The two Ministers concerned have both been engaged in devising and administering policies in the interests of consumers.
§ Mr. Glenvil Hall
The right hon. Gentleman will recollect that it was also argued that not only would the consumer possibly suffer by the amalgamation, but the farming community would suffer in that he himself as Minister would have far too much to do.
I will come to that in a moment. I want to make the point that I do not regard the Ministry of Agriculture as solely a producers' Department. The Ministry of Agriculture, as I have said, has been and always is very much concerned with the interests of the consumers. I have only held these two portfolios for a few months, but during that time I have not found myself mentally torn asunder by conflicting interests.
I ask the House to remember that the ultimate objective of the encouragement of home food production is the long-term welfare of the consumer. One thing of which I personally am perfectly certain is that a healthy, efficient and prosperous agriculture is something that is in the interest of every person in this country. I think that sometimes where conflict is more apt to arise in connection with agriculture is in adjudicating between the interests of the producers and of the taxpayers.
I want to say this about the Government's responsibility. I think that it is sometimes forgotten that it is the Government as a whole that settles policy and not individual Ministers. The suggestion seems to be that a single Minister would be intellectually and morally incapable of setting the issues in any conflict of 155 interests fully and fairly before the Cabinet—because after all it is the Cabinet in the end that takes the decision. I suggest that there is very little weight in that argument. The interests of the consumers must be prominently and continuously in the minds of such a Minister, and he would be bound to keep them before his colleagues. I am glad to say, too, that there is no lack of voices in the House to speak for the consumer, and I do not think that any failure on the part of the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries and the Minister of Food to put the position of the consumer fairly before his colleagues would long pass unnoticed in the House or easily be forgiven.
We must remember the circumstances in which we are living. Hon. Members opposite sometimes do not yet seem to understand that we are now in a free system, that ration books and shortages have gone, and that the housewife can spend her money as she likes and where she likes, with the forces of competition at work. As the result of spending her money, she seems to be getting more, better and more varied food.
The main way, I suppose, in which freedom can be restricted to the disadvantage of the consumer is by raising tariffs or quota restrictions. So far as the functions of individual Ministers are concerned, these matters are the responsibility of the Government acting through the President of the Board of Trade and not through the Ministers of Agriculture and Fisheries and Food, although the Ministers and the President naturally work closely together within the Government.
There is another respect in which it might be held that the consumers' interest would suffer, and that is in connection with the control of marketing boards. The Ministers responsible for marketing boards under the Agriculture Marketing Acts always have been the Agricultural Ministers. In considering and approving marketing schemes, Ministers of Agriculture have to act judicially under the Acts, balancing all the interests involved. I cannot see therefore that this change, adding the functions of the Minister of Food to those of the Minister of Agriculture, will alter in any way the existing judicial position of the agricultural Ministers. On 156 the contrary, in a sense it strengthens their duty to act judicially.
I will not run through in detail the functions of the Department that are to be transferred. They are important and I will summarise them. First, is the performance of executive duties in administering the price guarantees under the Agriculture Act, the payment of agricultural subsidies, and what are called the " consumer subsidies " for bread and welfare foods, totalling, as has been said, some £285 million. These functions are closely allied with agriculture and occupy a substantial part of the staff. Then there is the supervision of the long-term contracts, and of the overseas work and arrangements of the Ministry of Food. There are very important long-term contracts like the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement and certain long-term agreements with the Colonies, and the work of the O.E.E.C., N.A.T.O., F.A.O. and of a number of other organisations, with whose initials I will not bewilder the House.
There Is the supervision of the general food import programme, the important defence plans—to which the hon. Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey) referred—and the emergency food reserves. I agree that all those amount to matters of great importance, which is why the Government have decided that this shall not be an absorption but the setting up of a new Department. Lastly, I ought to refer, under the work of the Department, to the remaining work in winding up the trading activities of the Ministry of Food. That will continue for some time.
I was surprised at the speech of the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) in connection with the functions which have been transferred to Scotland. That was the first time I had heard a Scottish Member protesting that the transfer of responsibilities to Scotland. Indeed, I thought that was what Scottish Members always like to see happen.
In this case, most of the food activities will be transferred to the Secretary of State for Scotland, with the exception of the most general functions on a national scale or the functions dealing with overseas matters. The bulk of the food and drugs administration is 157 already administered by the Secretary of State for Scotland.
As my right hon. Friend said, the general food and drugs administration is not being dealt with by this Order. That is so not because of any change of plan by the Government. We were advised that as that transfer does not require a Transfer of Functions Order but could be dealt with by an ordinary order, it would be more convenient to have it dealt with by a separate order.
§ Mr. Blenkinsop
Could the right hon. Gentleman say when it is to be presented and whether there will be a proper opportunity for discussion?
It will be brought forward as soon as possible. We are very anxious that there should be the minimum delay between the bringing into effect of this transfer order and the transfer to the Ministry, of Health of such parts of the work as will go to that Department. The intention is that the responsibility for cleanliness and hygiene should go to the Ministry of Health and that the responsibility for food composition, food labelling and advertising should remain with the new Department. As the House knows, regulations in this case are all made jointly, and that will continue to be the case.
§ Mr. Blenkinsop
Will the other order be subject to the affirmative procedure when presented, or to the negative procedure? That makes a very big difference.
I cannot give a final reply to that tonight, but I am inclined to think that the negative procedure would be sufficient for this purpose.
§ Mr. Willey
Why was the other order not laid contemporaneously if the decision had been taken when this Order was made? I do not want to press the point, but why is the Minister not fully informed about it?
I am fully informed that it is not necessary to have more than an order requiring the negative procedure for this purpose.
§ Mr. Herbert Morrison (Lewisham, South)
I am sorry to interrupt the right hon. Gentleman, but some time ago I handled the provisions under which the Government are now acting. I understand 158 that the further order will be an order providing for the transfer of functions between one Department and another. If that is so, surely it must be approved by an affirmative Motion in a similar manner to the Order now before the House.
That is not the advice I have had. I understand the reason is that such a transfer would not involve the winding up—the termination—of a Department. I think that is the point. There will be an exception to the transfer of the cleanliness and hygiene regulations as the primary responsibility of the Ministry of Health. The primary responsibility for slaughterhouses, meat, milk and dairies regulations would more conveniently, we think, remain with the new Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. When I say that these responsibilities will be transferred to the Ministry of Health that is only the primary responsibility, because in all these matters regulations have to be made jointly and there has to be the very closest consultation. Primary responsibility for the new Food Hygiene Advisory Council, it is intended, will go to the Ministry of Health.
So far as the decision that primary responsibility for composition and labelling should remain with the new Department, we have been influenced very largely by a point which was mentioned by the hon. Member for Sunderland, North—the necessity for maintaining close relations with the food trades. At present those relations do exist, and I trust they will continue to exist between the new Department and the food trades. In these cases it is desirable that the routine responsibility so far as possible should remain with the new Department, otherwise the food trades would find themselves having to deal not with one Department, but with two.
§ Mr. Blenkinsop
I apologise for having to interrupt so frequently, but could the right hon. Gentleman explain why it is necessary to have this delay between the presentation of the two orders? Why cannot the House discuss the whole matter—which is one issue—together, instead of having one after another?
I have explained that we are advised that it would be more convenient if it were dealt with by two separate orders. [HON. MEMBERS: " Who by?"] I really cannot see that it makes 159 very much difference whether we debate and discuss both these things on the same evening or on two evenings. Anyway, this evening I am afraid that if I continued very far in that direction, Mr. Speaker, you would rule me out of order because there is no mention of the subsequent transfer in the Order we are discussing at present.
I ought to say a word about economies—
Before the right hon. Gentleman leaves that point, may I ask if it would not have been better to have first transferred the functions to the Ministry of Health and then laid a transfer of functions order? Then we would have been able to discuss the transfer of functions order knowing precisely what was being transferred. At present we are not sure.
I cannot quite follow the hon. Member in that. It would seem perfectly clear what we are doing. [HON.MEMBERS: " No."] If it is not clear, hon. Members no doubt will have a chance of debating the question when the subsequent order is brought before the House.
§ Mr. J. T. Price (Westhoughton)
With great respect— [HON. MEMBERS: " 0h."] This surely is a vital issue. What the Minister is saying is purely on a technical point that does not inconvenience anyone. What it amounts to is that, instead of the House being in a position to debate this matter as a whole, now we are to be faced with a debate after 10 o'clock at night, perhaps at the end of a long and difficult day, when the matter cannot be given the attention it deserves. It is a really important issue.
I am afraid it would be quite improper if I were to continue that discussion any further because it is not dealt with in the Order we are discussing this evening; but we did feel we ought to tell the House on this occasion what our subsequent intention will be as regards that section of the work of the Ministry.
I ought to say one word about the effect of this merger from the point of view of economies. Big economies have been or will be obtained from the end of Government trading. But apart from trading losses, the administrative cost of the Ministry of Food at the present time 160 is only a fraction of what it was a few years ago. Further economies will result from this merger over the next year.
Three possibilities were open to us. First, we could have kept the remaining part of the Ministry of Food as a separate Department. I do not believe that that would have been a good plan. With the end of rationing and Government trading, a Department of that size and with those functions would not, in effect, have been in a good position to protect consumer interests. The second choice would have been to split up the Department and its remaining functions between three or four Government Departments, which would have been a complete disintegration. That way, had we followed it, would clearly have afforded no protection whatever to consumer interests. The third way is the course we have chosen.
I am sure that the whole nation will rejoice that we have reached the situation where food is plentiful again and freedom of choice has been re-established. The step which we are asking the House to approve tonight sets the seal on that achievement.
The Government are confident that in normal times private enterprise is much better able to ensure a plentiful and varied food supply to the nation at competitive prices than any Government-run agency could do. The nation, I am sure, agrees with that view. Let us rejoice, therefore, that we can now dispense with this special organisation which was set up for wartime purposes.
These proposals for merging the majority of the residual but useful functions of the Ministry of Food with the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries into one Department, I am convinced, will prove a sensible efficient and economical arrangement and one which is in the very best interests of the consumers. I hope that the House will approve this Order.
§ 9.53 p.m.
§ Mr. Thomas Williams (Don Valley)
It is not my intention to hold up the Division for more than a minute or two. I want to make only one point; my hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey) made it very clearly and it was emphasised by my hon. Friend the 161 Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, East (Mr. Blenkinsop). It is clear that the Government have not yet made up their minds who will administer the Food and Drugs Act, 1954.
If. however, the Government have made up their minds, why should we not have been discussing that today instead of at a later date? Will the right hon. Gentleman tell us, in a word, who, between now and the date of the next Order, will administer that Act? Are we to take it from what he has already said, and from what the Leader of the House said, that the Act is on the Statute Book but is not being administered and is not likely to be administered—effectively, at all events until a new Order is brought before the House?
The right hon. Gentleman emphasised the wonderful work that was done by the Overlord of Food and Agriculture when he took office in 1940, but not one word was said by the right hon. Gentleman about the predecessor of the Minister of Food in 1940, who laid all the plans and made it possible for his successor, the later Overlord of Food and Agriculture, to be the so-called successful Minister of Food during the whole of the war.
At the risk of embarrassing Mr. Speaker—
§ Mr. Williams
I was here and I heard what the right hon. Gentleman said. I said that the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Agriculture, who paid such
§ grand compliments to his right hon. Friend the ex-Overlord, made no reference to the then Minister who laid the foundations for the later successful Minister of Food.
§ The only other thing I want to say is that the right hon. Gentleman, on three or four occasions in my hearing, and in the hearing of all hon. Members in the House, laid emphasis on the fact that we have now abolished rationing and that the housewife is happy, implying that Her Majesty's Government are responsible for the new food situation. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will listen, because I do not think he will repeat frequently what he has said three or four times within these past few months about the abolition of rationing. What contribution have this Government made to the abolition of rationing?
§ Mr. Williams
Although there have been disputes between the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Food on numerous occasions, between 1947–48 and 1951–52—during the term of office of the previous Labour Government—food production increased by 5 per cent. per annum. This Government have been in office for four years and food production has increased by 1 per cent. per annum. That is the contribution this Government have made to derationing.
§ Question put:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 202, Noes 172.163
|Head, Rt. Hon. A. H.||Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir Reginald||Scott, Sir Donald|
|Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel||Marlowe, A. A. H.||Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R.|
|Heath, Edward||Marples, A. E.||Sharpies, Maj. R. C.|
|Hill, Dr. Charles (Luton)||Marshall, Douglas (Bodmin)||Smithers, Peter (Winchester)|
|Hill, John (S. Norfolk)||Maude, Angus||Smyth, Brig. J. G. (Norwood)|
|Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Maudling, R.||Snadden, W. McN.|
|Hirst, Geoffrey||Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.||Spearman, A. C. M.|
|Holland-Martin, C. J.||Medlicott, Sir Frank||Speir, R. M.|
|Hollis, M. C.||Milligan, Rt. Hon. W. R.||Spent, Rt. Hn. Sir P. (K'ns'gt'n, S.)|
|Holt, A. F.||Molson, A. H. E.||Stevens, Geoffrey|
|Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P.||Moore, Sir Thomas||Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.)|
|Howard, Hon. Greville (St. Ives)||Neave, Airey||Steward, William (Woolwich, W.)|
|Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.)||Nicholson, Godfrey (Farnham)||Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.)||Nield, Basil (Chester)||Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S.)|
|Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral J.||Nugent, G. R. H.||Studholme, H. G.|
|Hurd, A. R.||Oakshott, H. D.||Summers, G. S. (Aylesbury)|
|Hylton-Foster, Sir H. B. H.||O'Neill, Hon. Phelim (Co. Antrim,N.)||Sumner, W. D. M. (Orpington)|
|Iremonger, T. L.||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D.||Sutcliffe, Sir Harold|
|Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)||Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.)||Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)|
|Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Page, R. G.||Teeling, W.|
|Johnson-Hicks, Hon. L. W.||Peake, Rt. Hon. O.||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. P. L. (Heref'd)|
|Kerby, Capt. H. B.||Perkins, Sir Robert||Thomas, P. J. M. (Conway)|
|Kerr, H. W.||Peto, Brig. C. H. M.||Thompson, Lt-Cdr. R. (Croydon,W.)|
|Leather, E. H. C.||Peyton, J. W. W.||Thorneycroft, Rt. Hn. P. (M'nm'th)|
|Legge-Bourke, Ma). E. A. H.||Pickthorn, K. W. M.||Touche, Sir Gordon|
|Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield)||Pilkington, Capt. R. A.||Turton, R. H.|
|Lennox-Boyd, Rt. Hon. A. T.||Pitt, Miss E. M.||Tweedsmuir, Lady|
|Linstead, Sir H. N.||Powell, J. Enoch||Vosper, D. F.|
|Lloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.)||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O. L.||Wade, D. W.|
|Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral)||Raikes, Sir Victor||Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)|
|Lloyd-George, Maj. Rt. Hon. G.||Ramsden, J. E.||Walker-Smith, D. C.|
|Lockwood, Lt.-Col. J. C.||Rayner, Brig. R.||Wall, Major Patrick|
|Longden, Gilbert||Redmayne, M.||Ward, Miss I. (Tynemouth)|
|Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth,S.)||Rees-Davies, W. R.||Webbe, Sir H. (L'nd'n & Westm'r)|
|Lucas, P. B. (Brentford)||Remnant, Hon. P.||Wellwood, W.|
|Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Ridsdale, J. E.||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)|
|McCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S.||Robinson, Sir Roland (Blackpool, S.)||Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)|
|Macdonald, Sir Peter||Robson-Brown, W.||Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)|
|Mackeson, Brig. Sir Harry||Roper, Sir Harold||Wills, G.|
|Mackie, J. H. (Galloway)||Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Maclay, Rt. Hon. John||Russell, R. S.||Wood, Hon. R.|
|McLean, Neil (Inverness)||Ryder, Capt. R. E. D.||Woollam, John Victor|
|Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)||Savory, Prof. Sir Douglas||TELLERS FOR THE AIESI|
|Maitland, Patrick (Lanark)||Schofield, Lt.-Col. W.||Sir Cedric Drewe and Mr. Kaberry.|
|Albu, A. H.||Delargy, H. J.||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.|
|Allen, Scholefieid (Crewe)||Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||Janner, B.|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Edwards, Rt. Hon. John (Brighouse)||Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T.|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)||Jeger, Mrs. Lena|
|Baird, J.||Evans, Edward (Lowestoft)||Jenkins, Roy (Stechford)|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J.||Evans, Stanley (Wednesbury)||Johnson, James (Rugby)|
|Benn, Hon. Wedgwood Benson, G.||Fienburgh, W.||Jones, Rt. Han. A. Creech|
|Beswick, F.||Finch, H. J.||Jones, Frederick Elwyn (W. Ham S.)|
|Bing, G. H. C.||Foot, M. M.||Jones. Jack (Rotherham)|
|Blackburn, F.||Forman, J. C.||Jones, James (Wrexham)|
|Blenkinsop, A.||Freeman, Peter (Newport)||Keenan, W.|
|Blyton, W. R.||Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N.||Kenyon, C.|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G.||Gibson, C. W.||King, Dr. H. M.|
|Bowden, H. W.||Gooch, E. G.||Kinley, J.|
|Bowles, F. G.||Grey, C. F.||Lawson, G. M.|
|Braddock, Mrs. Elizabeth||Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)||Lee, Frederick (Newton)|
|Brockway, A. F.||Hale, Leslie||Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.|
|Brook, Dryden (Halifax)||Hall, Rt. Hn. Glenvil (Colne Valley)||Logan, D. G.|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Hall, John T. (Gateshead, W.)||MacColl, J. E.|
|Burke, W. A.||Hannan, W.||McGovern, J.|
|Callaghan, L. J.||Hardy, E. A.||McKay, John (Wallsend)|
|Castle, Mrs. B. A.||Harrison, J. (Nottingham, E.)||MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)|
|Champion, A. J.||Hastings, S.||Mainwaring, W. H.|
|Chapman, W. D.||Hayman, F. H.||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)|
|Coldrick, W.||Herbison, Miss M.||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfd, E.)|
|Collick, P. H.||Hobson, C. R.||Mann, Mrs. Jean|
|Cove, W. G.||Holman, P.||Manuel, A. C.|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Holmes, Horace||Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.|
|Crosland, C. A. R.||Houghton, Douglas||Mason, Roy|
|Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.||Hudson, James (Ealing, N.)||Messer, Sir F.|
|Darling, George (Hillsborough)||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)||Mitchison, G. R.|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Monslow, W.|
|Davies, Stephen (Merthyr)||Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)||Moody, A. S.|
|Deer, G.||Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)||Morgan, Dr. H. B. W.|
|Irving, W. J. (Wood Green)|
|Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.)||Rhodes, H.||Webb, Rt. Hon. M. (Bradford, C.)|
|Morrison, Rt. H n. Herbert(Lewis'mS.)||Robens, Rt. Hon. A.||Weitzman, D.|
|Moyle, A.||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)||Wells, Percy (Faversham)|
|Murray, J. D.||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)||Wells, William (Walsall)|
|Neal, Harold (Bolsover)||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)||West, D. G.|
|Orbach, M.||Ross, William||Wheeldon, W. E.|
|Oswald, T.||Shurmer, P. L. E.||White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)|
|Owen, W J.||Silverman, Julius (Erdngton)||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.|
|Padley, W. E.||Skeffington, A. M.||Wlgg, George|
|Paget, R. T.||Slater, Mrs H. (Stoke-on-Trent)||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Dearne Valley)||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)||Willey, Frederick|
|Palmer, A. M. F.||Smith, Norman (Nottingham, S.)||Williams, Ronald (Wigan)|
|Pannell, Charles||Sorensen, R. W.||Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)|
|Parker, J.||Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank||Williams, W. R. (Droylsden)|
|Paton, J.||Sparks, J. A.||Williams, W. T. (Hammersmith, S.)|
|Peart, T. F.||Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.||Willis, E. G.|
|Plummer, Sir Leslie||Stross, Dr. Barnett||Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)|
|Popplewell, E.||Swingler, S. T.||Winterbottom, Richard (Brightsids)|
|Porter, G.||Sylvester, G. 0.||Yates, v. F.|
|Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)||Taylor, John (West Lothian)||Younger, Rt. Hon. K.|
|Probert, A. R.||Thomas, Ivor Owen (Wrekin)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Proctor, W. T.||Thornton, E.||Mr. Pearson and|
|Reid, Thomas (Swindon)||Viant, S. P.||Mr. Arthur Allen.|
|Reid, William (Camlachie)||Wallace, H. W.|
§ That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that the Transfer of Functions (Ministry of Food) Order, 1955, be made in the form of the Draft laid before this House on 16th March.
§ To be presented by Privy Councillors or Members of Her Majesty's Household.