HL Deb 16 February 1943 vol 126 cc48-9

My Lords, I beg to ask the question standing in my name on the Paper.

[The question was as follows:

To ask His Majesty's Government, in view of the possibility, recently referred to by the Minister of Food, that it may be necessary to ration bread, whether they are aware that the practice of feeding fowls on bread is common among backyard poultry keepers, and whether they are prepared to take further steps to discourage it.]


My Lords, the answer to the question is in the affirmative. The Government believe that there are some domestic poultry keepers who may deliberately be purchasing more bread than is required for their household purposes in order to feed their fowls. People who do this are breaking the law of the land. A number of successful prosecutions have been instituted by my Department where there has been gross waste and misuse of food by feeding o to chickens and other live stock. Evidence that this practice is widespread or that large quantities of bread are illegally disposed of in this manner is, however, lacking. The enforcement of the law which prohibits the feeding to animals of food fit for human consumption presents peculiar difficulties of detection and proof. It is now more vital than at any time during the war that the public should restrict its purchases of bread strictly to the needs of the household. Very little bread or other cereal products should become so unfit for human consumption as to justify their inclusion in kitchen waste for feeding to live stock. People are becoming increasingly aware of the need to eliminate all avoidable waste, but the educative propaganda carried out by my Department with this object for the last three years is being extended with special emphasis on the need for reducing the demand for imported foods, especially wheat flour. I am very grateful to the noble Lord who has raised the question in order that public attention may be drawn to the practice, and I would venture, if it is not improper for me to do so—I am not sure whether it is or not—to urge upon benches of magistrates that they should enforce this law in such a manner as to discourage these malpractices.


My Lords, arising out of that reply, may I ask whether the noble Lord has made any inquiry of large-scale bakers, particularly in the West of England, to ascertain whether it is not a fact that far larger issues of bread and flour are made to certain houses where fowls are kept than could possibly be required for the individuals constituting the households?


My Lords, the answer is in the negative. I have not made these inquiries. I should scarcely dare to make inquiries as to what is done in private households after the observations of the noble Viscount the last time I did it.

House adjourned during pleasure, and resumed by Lord STANMORE.