HL Deb 22 May 1947 vol 147 cc1061-79

2.52 p.m.

LORD CHERWELL rose to ask His Majesty's Government, since it has been stated in another place by a Government spokesman that the calorie value of the domestic ration and the calorie equivalent of the domestic entitlement of eight points per week amount to 1,600 calories a day, whether they will state what food is available to provide the extra 1,300 calories a day required to make up the figure of 2,000 calories which Viscount Addison has stated are obtainable by persons not using restaurants and canteens; and to move for Papers. The noble Lord said: My Lords, I make no apology for bringing this Motion before the House. I am sure the noble Viscount the Leader of the House is as anxious as anybody that the true facts should be known and that any trace of unfairness towards a member of his own profession should be put right.

Perhaps I should explain at the outset why, in discussing our food to-day, I am doing so purely in terms of calories. The two main needs of human beings—and, for that matter, of all warm-blooded animals—are to maintain their body temperature above that of the surrounding air and to have enough energy to do their work. The scientific unit of both heat and energy is the calorie. The calorie, therefore, is, in the first instance, a measure of nutrition. Without calories we would die. Accessory food factors such as mineral salts, vitamins, and so on, are, of course, most important and necessary. But they are accessory. The finest motor car, with its batteries regularly topped up and any amount of lubricating oil, cannot run without fuel. Our industry, no matter how well equipped and how well organized, comes to a stop if no coal is available to provide the calories. In the same way, human beings cannot live without food which will provide calories, no matter how perfect the balance of all the accessory food factors may be. Unless we have enough calories nobody can say we are adequately fed.

In the food debate a fortnight ago my noble friend Lord Woolton referred in his opening speech to the shortage of food as it affects the housewife, and quoted Dr. Bicknell in the Medical Press as having said that the unemployed before the war were better fed than most of the nation to-day. Though the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, and several other noble Lords spoke from the Government Benches, no comment whatever was made on this aspect of our food troubles until within ten minutes of the end of the debate, when the noble Viscount, the Leader of the House, remonstrated in severe terms with my noble friend Lord Woolton for having given currency to these statements. The noble Viscount complained bitterly that Dr. Bicknell's figures were incorrect, and said that they were out by about 30 per cent., and that the average person in Great Britain gets not 2,100 calories but 2,900 calories per day.

I have carefully read the article in the Medical Press, and what the author says is that a man and his wife, eating all their meals at home, can get at most 2,070 calories daily—or roughly 2,100 calories for all rationed and pointed foods and all unrationed food, excluding restaurant meals. Since it has been stated on behalf of the Ministry of Food that the calories to be derived from rations and pointed foods amount to only 1,600 calories per day, the question at issue is whether Dr. Bicknell is right when he states that the amount to be derived from unrationed foods, excluding canteen and restaurant meals, is about 500 calories a day, bringing the total up to 2,100 calories, or whether the noble Viscount, Lord Addison, is right when he states that the normal man or woman, who has not access to a restaurant or canteen, can derive 1,300 calories a day from unrationed sources and so bring his or her total up to the 2,900 calories claimed by Government spokesmen.

What I am asking the Government is: what foods, which are not on rations or points and which will provide the missing 1,300 calories, are available to the ordinary man or woman to-day? Unless a satisfactory answer can be given to this question, I feel sure that the noble Viscount, the Leader of the House, will agree that, on this point, at any rate, Dr. Bicknell, who has gone into the question with great care and finds that only 500 calories are available, is entitled to an apology.

To save time, and to avoid unnecessary controversy, the noble Viscount may be glad if I refresh his memory as to some of the statements made in another place on this point. According to the Minister of Food, the Department's Dietary Food Survey shows that the food eaten in the home in December, 1945, was equivalent to 2,390 calories. In November, 1946, it was 2,320 calories; and in December, 1946, 2,300 calories. So far as I know, no later figures have been published. The noble Viscount will observe the lamentable and steady decline. In any event, the figure of 2,300 calories given by the Minister of Food is much nearer the 2,100 calories given in the article in the Medical Press than the figure of 2,900 calories quoted by the noble Viscount. Far from being 30 per cent. out, Dr. Bicknell's 2,100 calories is within 9 per cent. of the figure given by the Minister of Food himself.

A second point against which the noble Viscount protested vehemently was the statement that the unemployed before the war were better fed than most of the nation to-day. I believe this to be broadly true, unless, of course, the noble Viscount defines "better" in some extraordinary esoteric sense. Some ten years ago Sir William Crawford and Mr. Broadley (now Sir Herbert Broadley and a distinguished official of the Ministry') carried through a food inquiry in an endeavour to assess the extent to which the average diets of the different social classes or income groups fell short of, or exceeded, the standards prescribed by the British Medical Association, by Stiebeling, and the League of Nations. As was to be expected, they found that the diet of the two poorest groups—those with under £125 a year and those with between £125 and £249—fell short of the desired standard. But even in his lowest income group—that with an income of less than 12s. 6d. per head per week—the average calories derived were given as 2,335 per head per day—35 calories above the Ministry of Food December figure for the normal consumer to-day who has not access to restaurants, canteens, and the like.

A couple of years previously, in 1934, Sir John Boyd On concluded that the poorest 10 per cent. of the population, with less than 10s. a head per week, spending less than 4s. a week on food, obtained 2,317 calories a day—17 calories more than the Ministry of Food figure. These two sets of figures from Sir William Crawford and Sir John Boyd Orr surely justify Lord Woolton in quoting Dr. Bicknell's statement that the unemployed before the war were better fed than most of the people to-day. It is of course true, as I pointed out in a recent letter to The Times, that Sir William Crawford's investigation shows that this group, the poorest 15 per cent. of the population, obtained 65 per cent. more meat and 80 per cent. more bacon than we have on our ration and on points to-day—not to mention 46 per cent. more fats and 90 per cent. more sugar than our rations allow US.

It may be that some fervent vegetarian might say that the people are better fed to-day than they were pre-war just because they are getting much less meat than before. But surely this would be an unusual interpretation of the word "better." I am sure the noble Viscount will not claim that we are better fed because a man has to substitute potatoes for meat and bacon and sugar and fats, even if he could get the, same number of calories from them. Of course, before the war there were some people on the poverty line.




I do not think 10,000,000.


According to Sir John Boyd Orr.


If one can be guided by the League of Nations standard, the whole of this nation is to-day on the poverty line. As I say, there were some people on the poverty line before the war who had less food than we get even on our present-day rations. I admit that. We are all very glad that the number of these unhappy members of society is smaller to-day than it was before the war. But the fact that a few per cent. of the population may be getting slightly more food than formerly does not outweigh the fact that an overwhelming majority are getting a great deal less. I therefore again assert that it is an abuse of language to say that the country, as a whole, is better fed than ever before. I do claim that in replying the Government spokesman should answer the question that I have put down. Attempts have been made sometimes to shuffle out of it by bringing forward global issues of food. That is no answer. Tables such as are set out in the OFFICIAL REPORT for May 12 of the proceedings in another place can only be stigmatized as an attempt to avoid the issue. I trust that the noble Viscount will not do that sort of thing here. As I have said, it could only be represented as an attempt to avoid answering the question which I have put down.

The figures in such tables are very dubious. We could argue for hours about their accuracy, their validity and their implications; and the figures are entirely beside the point. I am concerned with the normal man, and above all the normal woman—the small shopkeeper, the clerk, the working man who takes his meals at home, the shop girl, the adolescent and especially the unhappy housewife whose life of queueing and contriving leaves her no time for meals in restaurants and canteens. On rations and points these people are entitled to the equivalent of 1,600 calories a day. The Government say they have 2,900 calories a day. I ask the noble Viscount to state fairly and squarely, without beating about the bush, what are the sorts and amounts of food which they believe can be bought, and are being bought, outside their rations and points, by normal persons who are unable to use canteens or restaurants and who are not in one of the priority classes, which will make up the difference. I beg to move for Papers.

3.5 p.m.


My Lords, I rise to intervene on the subject of the Motion of the noble Lord, Lord Cherwell, with more than usual diffidence. On the one hand, I am not a specialist on metabolism, the subject under discussion, and, on the other, I am not a world-famous physicist. Nevertheless, as I gave my noble friend the Leader of the House the figure of 2,900 calories per day per person as the average consumption of the population of this country, I am anxious to make a few observations on that figure. But before doing so, may I associate myself with the noble Lord in what he said about diet in contradistinction to calories? It would, I think, be most undesirable for the outside world to gain the impression that noble Lords in this House think of the nation's diet solely in terms of calories. Though it is true, as the noble Lord said, that we cannot do without them, a satisfactory diet includes other vital ingredients. I disagree with the noble Lord when he says you car dispense with some of those. As all noble Lords will know, these other vital ingredients are the vitamins and accessory food factors already mentioned, certain minerals, water, of course, and last, but by no means least, palatability. When we talk about a satisfactory diet, it is misleading to talk about calories alone. The other factors I have mentioned are also essential for the nation's health.

The question of the noble Lord, Lord Cherwell, must be construed as casting, some doubt on the figure of 2,900 calories per person per day the average consumption of foodstuffs in this country. The figure has already been given by the Minister of Food, and I drew the attention of my noble friend the Leader of the House to that figure. And here I owe an apology to your Lordships in having made an error in the figure which I gave to my noble friend. The figure I gave was 2,900 calories. The actual Ministry of Food figure is 2,880 calories. 1 took the liberty—which I hope the noble Lord will excuse—of giving my noble friend the figure to the nearest 100 calories. This involved an error of 20 parts in 2,880, which I think your Lordships—and I am sure the noble Lord, Lord Cherwell—will find is equivalent to an error of approximately 0.7 per cent.

To a certain extent the discussion must centre round the meaning of the expression "average consumption per person per day," and it is fortunate that I can explain to your Lorships what I mean by this expression without recourse to that subject upon which the noble Lord is such an acknowledged expert, statistics. At any rate, the statistics will be of so elementary a nature that there is unlikely to be any difference of opinion about them. Of course, professional statisticians disagree with each other from time to time, but this tendency is by no means restricted to statisticians. Even in this House I have sometimes heard contrary views expressed with conviction, if not heat. And I remember distinguished physicists, in the early part of the war, taking bets against the possibility of an atomic bomb ever being made. All that is meant when I say that the average consumption of food in this country is 2,900 calories per person per day is that if the total amount of food in the country consumed, or available for consumption—not the total amount of food in the country—were evenly distributed among the population, each member of the population would have 2,900 calories a day.

This, of course, does not mean that if we take one individual at random we shall find that his calorific intake per day has a high probability of being near to 2,900. We have only to consider the difference between a week-old infant, a miner and an office worker to realize that any attempt to produce a statistical figure of such a type would be bound to give misleading impressions, except to the priviledged few who are specialists in statistics. Your Lordships will appreciate the difficulties involved in attempting to stuff 2,900 calories of food into a week-old baby, however anxious a mother might be to do so. The actual method of calculation for the six-monthly period was to perform the following addition and subtraction sums: (1) to take home-produced supplies, including those of self-supplier; (2) add to them imported supplies; (3) add or subtract any change in the stock position; and (4)—and I think this will interest the noble Lord—subtract from this total the quantities fed to livestock; the quantities used for seed, industrial or other non-food purposes; the quantities exported or re-exported; and the quantities supplied to the Armed Forces. This adjusted figure is divided by the civilian population, and gives, as I have said before, the amount of calories that each person would get if the total were divided equally among the population.

I have carefully re-read the speech made by my noble friend the Leader of the House during the recent food debate, and I have been unable to find any statement to the effect that this average figure referred exclusively to persons not using restaurants or canteens. Some variation in this figure may be expected as a result of different treatments before and during cooking. As a personal estimate, I should say that this variation will amount to plus or minus 5 per cent.; but I hasten to add that this is not a Ministry of Food estimate. Of course, there are other, and perhaps better, methods of establishing the calorific intake of persons in this country. Sir John Boyd Orr—to whom the noble Lord referred—has made important contributions in this respect; but if the noble Lord, Lord Cherwell, really feels that a detailed breakdown of the whole population is advisable, I must warn him that such an investigation would involve literally armies of snoopers, and avalanches of forms to be filled in, to which he and his Party might, as in the past, raise certain objections.

But there is a more important point to which I should like to draw your Lordships' attention. That is the fact that in 1942 the combined United Kingdom, United States of America and Canadian Consumption Levels Inquiry Committee (which your Lordships will remember was initiated by Mr. Winston Churchill and Mr. Roosevelt) concluded—we must assume with good reason—that the actual method used by the Ministry of Food in arriving at the figure of 2,900 was the best method available. They concluded that the risks of error were greater in trying to weight the statistics than were the risks of error in excluding such weighting factors completely. Possibly the noble Lord, Lord Cherwell, who I believe was not unconnected with statistical matters during the war, may have a more detailed knowledge of the factors which caused Mr. Churchill and Mr. Roosevelt to come to this decision, which the present Government have adopted.

There is another important point about the figure of 2,900 which I should mention to your Lordships. The methods by which it was obtained are identical with those used in the pre-war period to get similar data. We are, therefore, in a position to compare the average diet of the country now with the average diet of the country before the war, the figures having been obtained in exactly the same way. Such comparisons will not be uninteresting to the people of our country, and perhaps my noble friend the Leader of the House will give the comparative figures when he replies to the Motion. May I emphasize that there seems to be a confusion in the minds of many people in thinking that it is possible mathematically to compare the calorific value of the ordinary adult ration of 1,600 with the average calorific intake of the civilian population. This figure of 1,600 takes no account whatsoever of unrationed foods, welfare food schemes, special rates for miners, the extra cheese ration for certain classes of worker, the sweet ration, the consumption of food in restaurants, canteens arid other catering establishments, and the allocations of rationed foods to the manufacturers of composite foods which are unrationed to the consumer.

The noble Lord, Lord Cherwell, in a recent letter to The Times to which he made reference, compared the calorific value of the adult rations with the prewar average total consumption of the same foods by the poorest 15 per cent. of the population. I submit, with genuine respect, that the two figures are not comparable. The first is a minimum entitlement, and your Lordships will know that there are thirteen different classes of minimum entitlement, over half of which are above 1,600, while the second is an average total consumption. The only true comparison between now and before the war is that given in the Consumption Level Inquiry Reports published by His Majesty's Government.

Although I said at the beginning that I was not a specialist in metabolism, I have for some years been interested in the calorific value of various foodstuffs for a personal reason that may not have escaped some of your Lordships, and which might euphemistically be called my tendency to obesity. I am, therefore, painfully conscious that one apple is worth 100 calories, one helping of fish is worth 100 calories, and one medium-sized potato is worth 100 calories. And I shudder to tell your Lordships what an orange or one peppermint cream means to sufferers like myself! I Perhaps these figures may indicate to your Lordships that it is not difficult to get above the 1,600 mark. I do not: think that any noble Lord on this side of the House would care to say that he is satisfied with the national diet, and in certain respects there is no doubt that there are defects and monotonies, which I hope and believe will be rectified. But compared with pre-war levels of consumption, assessed in the same way as now, the deficiencies are nowhere near as great as some of the critics of the Government would have the country believe. I, for one, very much hope that if such critics, or persons quoting from such critics, have made mistakes, they will reassure the public in no uncertain terms that this country, grave as its condition may be, is not dying of starvation, and that the Government's figures are not lies issued for political purposes.

3.20 p.m.


My Lords, I am very grateful to my noble friend who, as he said, supplied me with a particular figure which I quoted) for intervening at this stage in this discussion, because he possesses a knowledge on these matters, derived from accurate research and investigation, which far exceeds my own. At the end I shall have one or two comments to make on some other observations of the noble Lord, Lord Cherwell, but he is a highly respected scientific person, and I should have thought that as such he would have taken the elementary precaution of verifying his references. In the question for which he makes himself responsible, he says, Which Lord Addison has stated are obtainable by persons not using restaurants and canteens; I could not remember saying that. I have hunted through with great care all that I did say, and I have asked others to do so. They also are unable to discover any such statement, and therefore I would ask the noble Lord to make sure that those who informed him on this and drafted his question take the elementary precaution—because this is a very important omission—of verifying their references. However, I felt that in so important a matter, raised by one with the authority of the noble Lord, I must take the very unusual course for me of having a precise statement drafted and committed to paper. Therefore, before I make any observations on my own, I will ask the House, with what patience they can command, to listen to this carefully prepared and, I am sure, accurate statement which fully justifies what I have said.

I should like, in the first place, to give your Lordships an explanation of the figure of 2,900 calories to which I made reference in the debate. I have looked through the OFFICIAL REPORT and confirmed my own recollection that I did not, when using this figure, make mention of persons using restaurants or canteens. There is in fact no connexion between individual consumers, whether using restaurants and canteens or not, and the figure of 2,900 calories, which is arrived at simply by dividing the total quantity of food going into consumption by the total population. It is not in any sense an individual figure of consumption. The comparable figure for the pre-war period—the strictly comparable figure, ascertained in the same way—is 3,000 calories. So far as this over-all figure of consumption is concerned, therefore, the drop since pre-war days is a matter of some 100 calories.

Continuing our consideration of overall consumption, which as I have indicated shows a comparatively small drop in calories, the point will, I feel sure, arise in your Lordships' minds as to the very considerable difference in diet at the present time compared with pre-war. There is, of course, no doubt that on the whole, owing to difficulties of supply, the foods which we have to eat are less varied and less attractive and palatable on that account. The principal variations which may be noted—this is as compared with pre-war—are as follows. The total consumption of meat is to-day about 9 per cent. less than pre-war. Fats are down by 26 per cent., sugar by 26 per cent., and eggs by 14 per cent. On the other hand, the consumption of dairy products, especially milk, is up by 3o per cent. That of fresh fish has increased by 28 per cent., and that of flour, notwithstanding bread rationing, by 10 per cent. The consumption of potatoes has increased 64 per cent. These changes obviously lead on the whole to a less palatable diet, but while the diet has become duller it is approximating more and more closely to the nutritional foundation upon which it should be based—namely, dairy produce, vegetables and high-extraction bread, rather a pedestrian diet, and far removed from the esthetic levels of an hotel grill room.

Your Lordships will keep clearly in mind that this figure of 2,900 calories is an over-all figure, and an average figure. The average consumption in calories of different types of consumer varies quite considerably. Some obtain more and some less. The figure cannot, therefore, be applied to any particular class or person. Being an over-all consumption figure, the average of 2,900 calories covers not only straight rations and the points rations, but also any differential rations—heavy manual workers and so on—unrationed foods, welfare foods for children, and so on. Having, I hope, explained satisfactorily what this figure of 2,900 calories represents, I should like to point out that it must not be confused with any estimate of individual consumption. Obviously, a baby consumes much less than another person.

The noble Lord has referred to a figure of 1,600 calories. This figure is arrived at as follows. The straight basic rations give 1,400 calories to the ordinary adult and the, points rations another 200 calories, giving a total of 1,600 calories for rations. giving I want to emphasize, however, that this 1,600 calories makes no allowance whatever for a number of quite important additional sources of food. For example, it allows nothing for the bonus issues of sugar and jam which have been made from time to time. It does not cover manufactured products made from rationed food such as meat pies, sausages, fried fish and chips, and so on. It does not cover the sweets ration. Nor are meals taken outside the home allowed for in this figure.


Dr. Summerskill, I think, stated that it did cover the sweets ration.


You may take it that this statement is correct.


Then Dr. Summerskill was incorrect?


Never mind; I am not concerned with that. The noble Lord can take it that this has been prepared with meticulous care. Of course, it does not cover the heavy manual worker or miner, who is entitled to a special ration of certain commodities. In addition to the rationed foods, and to the above-mentioned additional sources of supply, there are a number of unrationed commodities which are available to the consumer, such as fish, potatoes, vegetables and fruit. The noble Lord will perhaps wish me to evaluate these extra supplies in calories. I am afraid that is a difficult thing to estimate.


It is.


But still they are all consumed in the average. It will depend upon a variety of factors, such as the needs of individuals, which affect the ration in some cases, and the choice and availability of particular foods, and so on.

Turning now to the extra sources of food which are not included under the heading of rations, it may interest your Lordships to know that meals obtained in schools, canteens and restaurants are not a minor contribution in the provision of food. There are at the present time 25,000 canteens providing meals in factories, mines, docks and other industrial plants. School canteens, and canteens for young persons, exceed 29,000. There are 15,000 Civic Restaurants and staff dining rooms attached to offices and business concerns. There are about 3,000 Service canteens, and there are about 92,000 commercial catering establishments. Thus, there are in all some 164,000 catering establishments, providing a weekly total of nearly 180,000,000 meals, of which some 59,000,000 are officially classified as main meals.

It may also interest your Lordships to know that many workers can obtain additional meals during their working hours, both morning and afternoon, in addition to a main meal in the middle of the day. Agricultural workers and others who, by nature of their employment, are unable to make use of canteens, benefit under a number of special schemes, under which they can obtain a supplement to their normal rations. In all these cases it must be remembered that whilst a certain number of people cannot obtain meals from such catering establishments or other schemes, yet whenever a member of a family obtains a meal outside the home it does in fact represent a net contribution to the total family pool.

I hope I have put before your Lordships during the course of this statement sufficient information to remove from your Lordships' minds any fear that the nutritional standards of the people are endangered at the present time. We should all naturally wish to have a more plentiful and a more varied diet, and we look forward to the time when changes in this direction can be introduced. But we can, I think, rest assured that the requirements of the people as a whole are being adequately met and that there is no room for alarm and despondency. The aim of the rationing of food and of the food distribution systems which the noble Lord, Lord Woolton, was instrumental in introducing has, I think, been reasonably well achieved. The available food has been directed to those who most need it; and there is evidence that the classes of persons who before the war suffered from malnutrition are on the whole better fed to-day. That is the statement I made before. I repeat it, because it is true. I do not withdraw one word I said. I object to the statements attributed to this man that England is dying of starvation. I said that that was a falsity, and it is; that is all. Statements like that should not be made. They are sloppy, inaccurate and altogether mischievous.


Or positively scientific. As the noble Lord has spent a great deal of abuse on me, perhaps I may be allowed to say this. The gentleman who wrote that article was a high medical scientific authority, a much higher one than any other quoted. He used the phrase "dying of starvation" in the strictly technical sense, and it was so quoted. Anybody who has any knowledge at all on the subject of the amount of fats that are available in this country must know that we are in fact starving for fats.


I am not interested in the noble Lord's desire to continue to depreciate the state of affairs in this country. The statement I referred to was the statement that the noble Lord himself made and these are the words, taken from Hansard: "England is dying of starvation." I say that is not true. I do not care what purport to be the scientific claims of the man who makes a statement of that kind. I say again: it is sloppy, inaccurate and mischievous, because it is not true. I do not care what the man's qualifications are; he is disgracing his qualifications by saying things like that. I know that our diet is not as interesting as we should like, and not a word I said under-estimated that. What I did protest against—and I do not withdraw one word of it—is the disseminating of false statements like that, which are not true in themselves and which do us harm all over the world.

I have received some first-hand statements from the Dominions and other places as to the mischievous effects of inaccurate statements of this kind. They are doing this country harm. We are not in this plight, and it is not right to pretend that we are. I have also had another piece of ammunition from an unexpected quarter. It is the Report of the Ministry of Health, issued within the last few days. On page 7 there is this statement: As far as clinical services and the state of nutrition of the various groups of the population and the heights and weights of children are to be regarded as reliable in disease, the nutrition of the population generally remains good. An improvement in the rate of growth of school children suggests that the children of 1945 were better physically than the corresponding children of 1940 or before the war. That is largely due to the distribution of milk. I am glad that the noble Lord, Lord Cherwell, has called attention to this matter again, because it has enabled me to have the figures inquired into with the most meticulous research. I am glad to say that the evidence is abundant and overwhelming, that the statement I made was correct.


I think I am right in saying that the noble Lord said we were better fed than ever before.


No; I have never said that. I do not know what the noble Lord is quoting from. I was referring to the 10,000,000 or so persons (as estimated by Sir John Boyd Orr) who were insufficiently fed before the war. I said it was claimed that that section of the population were better fed now, and I think that is true.


Better fed than before the war? I should like to point out that so far as my part of the country is concerned the statement of the noble Viscount—I return his compliment—is sloppy, inaccurate and definitely untrue.


My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Rothschild, and his Leader have given us two very interesting speeches. The noble Lord, Lord Rothschild, gave us a disquisition on the use of statistics and explained that they did not purport to show what the ordinary person eats but what the average person eats. But the figures were based upon taking the total amount of food which I believe (according to the favourite Civil Service words) "moved into consumption." Of course if he does not mean the food is consumed the figures may be right. He also said that the same method had been used before the war. I would remind him that before the war we did not have a Ministry of Food, hence these figures are extremely uncertain and we cannot rely upon these comparisons. He told us, with some distress, of the small number of peppermints he was able to eat without an increased "waistage" if I may put it in that way; and also of the large amount of calories he is getting from his apples.

The noble Viscount, Lord Addison, when he came a little near to answering my question, said it would be very difficult to say what food was available, but that there were fish and potatoes and vegetables outside the ration. should like to know whether he has looked it up. He would be wise to verify references. If you want enough fish to produce 1,300 calories you would have to eat 100 ounces of it; if you want to produce 1,300 calories by eating potatoes you would have to eat 5 lbs. a day; if you want to produce 1,300 calories from cabbage you would have to eat anything over 200 ounces of it. I think, as was said in another place, that even the President of the Board of Trade might boggle at that. The noble Viscount was good enough to remind me to verify my references. I am equally anxious that he should do the same. For greater certainty and accuracy, I have brought my references with me. The noble Viscount complained bitterly about Dr. Bicknell.


No, I did not complain about Dr. Bicknell, I complained about what Lord Woolton said. I have never react the man's paper, nor had I heard of it before. I said that this was what Lord Woolton said. I gave it as, a quotation. That was what I referred to.


I think you will find that Lord Woolton did not say anything about 2,100 calories, and I do not know where the noble Viscount got that figure from, if not from the article in the Medical Pres. The first four lines of that article state: All rationed and pointed foods, including bread and all unrationed food, excluding restaurant meals, provide under 2,100 calories daily. As the noble Lord did not read the article I must not assume that he is aware of what it says in the second column. This is what is stated: So a man or his wife eating all meals at home, can at most get 2,070 calories daily. The noble Viscount complained about that and said it was 30 per cent. out. He said the figure should be 2,900 calories daily. But it is specifically stated that it refers to a man or his wife eating at home and getting no restaurant and canteen meals. The Minister of Food himself said such people get only 2,300 calories, so Dr. Bicknell was certainly nearer the truth than the noble Viscount. I have asked the noble Viscount how he gets the extra 1,300 calories. It is all very well to say we have restaurant and canteen meals. I daresay we have, but he said himself that the total was about 59,000,000 main meals per week—that is only I¼ meals per head of the population per week. That really is not going to make all that difference. These global figures really are extremely misleading, and some of them are definitely wrong. Take the figure given in the OFFICIAL REPORT of the proceedings of another place on May 12: it states that milk consumption is 16 per cent. higher than the figure given in the Digest. If that figure is wrong I do not know how much to trust the others. The Minister of Food said that we were consuming something like 147 per cent. more milk per head than before the war. The noble Viscount said it was 30 per cent. I think that it is more likely to be 20 per cent. We have only 3 per cent. more cows and I think it would be surprising, in view of the bad feeding, if the output of milk had gone up more than 4 or 5 per cent. The only additional amount that you get is from the use of milk which formerly went in the manufacture of butter and cheese; from that you can get an additional 15 per cent. So much for the reliability of Government figures.

If these amounts of food really have moved into consumption, if we really are getting 2 lbs. of meat per week, why cannot we get more than a ration of only Is. 4d. worth—say about I lb? If there is enough bread to produce 93 or 90 ounces per head per week why is the ration only 63 ounces? I do not know where it goes. It is not for me to explain this, but I maintain that if, as the Government claim, this enormous amount of food goes into consumption, then it is up to the Government to increase our ration. One other point. If the Government figures are right, they imply indubitably that some people are getting much more food than others. The noble Viscount did not deal with the fact that the Minister of Food himself said that an ordinary person, not having canteen or restaurant meals gets only 2,300 calories daily. That is v. hat has been said in another place. If the real average is 2,900, is it suggested that these 59,000,000 meals account for that difference?


The figure given was not 59,000,000. The figure of 59,000,000 meals referred to main meals. The number of meals per week supplied is 180,000,000; not 59,000,000.


59,000,000 main meals, and 180,000,000 meals altogether. I calculate that that gives a figure of 2.5 subsidiary meals and 1.25 main meals. Those are not going 10 put up the number of calories from 2,300 to 2,900. If they are, a good many people must be getting over 4,000 calories. There must be something very wrong in a system which enables them to get twice as much as an ordinary person, if we define an ordinary person one who has no priority ration or access to canteen meals. I am afraid I cannot pretend that I am satisfied with the noble Viscount's reply. The Government say all is well so long as all the people get equal amounts of food, even if they all get less. It would seem that they prefer parity to charity. I have heard no word of sympathy for the sorely tried housewife.


I must interrupt the noble Lord again. That is not correct. If the noble Lord will read my speech he will find that sympathy with the housewife is expressed from beginning to end. No one feels that sympathy more than we do.


I am relieved to hear that the noble Viscount feels that way. Most of the Government spokesmen merely exhort the housewife to be up and queueing. The Minister of Food is unruffled and complacent. The Government view is that: "Strachey's in his Heaven; all's well with the world." Very few of the inhabitants of this country will be prepared to accept that view. But, as it is evident that I am not to have an answer to my question and any further Papers would, no doubt, merely be directed to proving how well everything is going, I beg leave to withdraw my Motion.

Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.