HC Deb 05 May 1955 vol 540 cc1895-6
45. Mr. Jay

asked the Prime Minister whether he will make a further statement about the introduction of the Order to transfer the remaining functions of the Ministry of Food.

The Prime Minister (Sir Anthony Eden)

An Order to transfer to the Minister of Health the responsibility for food cleanliness and hygiene, except as regards slaughterhouses, meat and milk, and for the Food Hygiene Advisory Council is being prepared. I think it would be for the convenience of the House if it were introduced as early as possible in the new Parliament.

Mr. Jay

Can the Prime Minister explain why a Ministry which we thought had been abolished for the sake of economy will spend £50 million more this year than last year?

The Prime Minister

I have only been asked about this Order, and the reason why we have not laid the Order is one which I thought was agreeable to the House. I thought it would be wrong to lay it except when the House had a full opportunity to debate it. That is why I thought it would be better not to lay it now but to wait until the new Parliament before doing so.

Mr. G. M. Thomson

In considering these remaining functions of the Ministry of Food, will the Prime Minister reconsider the position of the welfare food services, in view of the evidence that we have been given this week that the consumption of these very essential welfare foods is running down under the new arrangements initiated by the Government?

The Prime Minister

It is a problem, but it is a different one from the one mentioned in the Question.

Mr. Jay

Is there a Ministry of Food now, or is there not?

The Prime Minister

The position will not be altered by this Order. We remain as we are until the Order comes into effect. As I have said, the Order is not going to be laid—and I think rightly so—until the new Parliament. If we had laid it now, although it could be prayed against within 40 days, it would have come into effect. I take full responsibility for this. I thought the right decision was not to lay it.

Mr. Robens

In view of the statement that the Order will be laid in the new Parliament, do I take it that the Prime Minister consulted the Leader of the Opposition, whose function it will be to do this?

The Prime Minister

I was forecasting either intelligently or agreeably.