§ Mr. LAMBERT
asked the Food Controller if he will remedy at Shebbear, Devon, the lack of alcoholic stimulant that 414W is prescribed by the medical men for cases of pneumonia complications, influenza, and other illnesses?
§ Sir H. NIELD
asked the Prime Minister what Department is responsible for the administration of Orders relating to the release of bonded spirits; by what authority have the permanent officials, by administrative action, nullified the recent Order increasing the supply; and whether, if this action is unauthorised, he will suspend and dismiss the responsible official, having regard to the mischief his action has produced by adding to the public discontent at this time?
§ Mr. BALDWIN
Authorities for the release of spirits from bond under the orders restricting deliveries are issued under the direction of the Board of Customs and Excise. The hon. Member is mistaken, in suggesting that the recent permission to increase the deliveries has been nullified by administrative action. I presume he has in mind the limitation, of the increase on authorities current for the six months ending 31st March to 10 per cent. of the six months' supply.
The position is as follows: Clearances of spirits in 1918 were restricted to 50 per cent. of the quantities delivered in 1916. The Cabinet recently decided to increase this amount to 75 per cent. of the quantities delivered in 1916. The current authorities, which cover a period of half a year, expire on the 31st March. The Cabinet decision became operative on the 24th of February, leaving only thirty-six days or roughly the tenth of a year before 31st March. The Commissioners of Customs and Excise consequently increased the current authorities by 10 per cent. of the six months' supply. The effect of this increase is that the clearances allowable as from the 24th February will amount to 75 per cent. of the quantities due to the corresponding period of 1916.
§ Sir H. NIELD
asked the Prime Minister whether he is aware that the recent promised addition of released bonded whisky or brandy of 25 per cent., including in all 75 per cent. over the 1916 quantities, has in practice been nullified by the action of the Department concerned with the administration, by restricting the increase to one month's average, taken over the whole fiscal year, ending 31st March, and 415W that in consequence the quantities thus authorised are so small as to be outside the wholesalers' licence, and, therefore, in spite of the prevailing sickness and deaths, which the use of stimulants would do so much to reduce, the order is inoperative, and the public are deluded by administrative action; and whether he proposes to take any action in the matter?
§ Mr. BALDWIN
The first part of the question is dealt with in my answer to the preceding question. For the latter part I would refer him to the reply given by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food to the hon. Member for the Everton Division of Liverpool on the 3rd March.