HC Deb 27 July 1960 vol 627 cc1634-6
24. Mr. Gresham Cooke

asked the Secretary of State for Air why National Service men in the Royal Air Force are still fed on reconstituted potato powder instead of natural potatoes.

Mr. W. J. Taylor

Potato powder is included in our emergency reserve stocks. Its storage life is limited, and in order to turn it over we issue it occasionally to all ranks—usually twice a month.

Mr. Gresham Cooke

Is my hon. Friend aware that my constituents—I do not know about those in Erith and Crayford—are very fed up with this constant issue of reconstituted "Pom"? Will he give a categorical assurance that the R.A.F. is not using up war-time stocks of "Pom"?

Mr. Taylor

The warranty for the life of this product is for two to three years. Therefore, I think that I can say categorically that we are not using up war-time stocks.

Mrs. Slater

Why give it to the men?

Mr. Taylor

My hon. Friend the Member for Twickenham (Mr. Gresham Cooke) made a distinction between National Service men and others. I can assure him that there is no such distinction.

Mr. Dodds

Will the hon. Gentleman explain why in Cyprus week after week the men are getting powdered "Pom" which is most unpalatable? Is he aware that from both sides of the House yesterday there were bitter complaints about the dumping of potatoes from overseas into this country? Why cannot we divert them to Cyprus? I beg the hon. Gentleman to understand the revulsion felt by troops in Cyprus. Will he speak to the Chairman of the Kitchen Committee and ask him to arrange for some of this powdered "Pom" to be served for several weeks in the Members' Dining Room?

Mr. Taylor

I can only say that the menus and messing generally in the R.A.F. are very satisfactory. I commend all hon. Members in all parts of the House to visit R.A.F. stations to see what is being served. As for Cyprus, in twenty-six days in June there was a choice for the midday meal between hot and cold dishes. "Pom" is used on two days only a month, as I said in my original reply.

Mr. de Freitas

Is this entirely an Air Force matter or do the "Pommies" get powdered "Pom" too?

Mr. Taylor

We get the "Pommies" from the War Office.