HC Deb 17 February 1921 vol 138 cc288-90W

asked the Minister of Food if he is aware that nearly 800 tons of flour have been lying untouched in Middlesbrough on account of the Ministry of Food for over 12 months, involving costs for storage and inspection whilst at the same time deteriorating in quality and being damaged by rats and mice; what is the total quantity of flour which has been stored in other parts of the country for a period of 12 months or more, and the total costs involved for storing and inspecting the same; if he considers it necessary to hold such stocks; and whether he will consider the desirability of renewing the flour every three or six months in order to avoid the loss due to deterioration which occurs after 12 months' storage?


The flour referred to in the first part of the question, which until recently formed part of the stock held by the Royal Commission on Wheat Supplies as an emergency reserve, has now been disposed of. With regard to the second part of the question, I do not think it is in the public interest to give the information asked for. With regard to the third part, it has been decided to reduce these stocks, and already more than 60 per cent, of the total stocks have been disposed of. The last part of the question accordingly does not arise.


asked the Minister of Food whether many sacks of Government flour are stored away in the larger towns of Glamorgan, South Wales, and getting rotten, and unfit for use; and will he make an inquiry into the facts and give a statement of such findings to the House as soon as possible?


A certain quantity of flour is stored at three points in Glamorgan as part of the emergency reserve stock of the Royal Commission on Wheat Supplies. Instructions have been given for the dispersal of the bulk of these stocks, and according to recent reports the condition of the remainder is satisfactory.


asked the Minister of Food whether his attention has been called to the report of Mr. Vincent Edwards, a Fellow of the Chemical Institute, upon his analysis of the Chinese flour at present in this country, and in which he makes the statement that it is damaged stuff infested with mites and other insects and entirely unfit for human consumption; and whether he intends to take any action in the matter in the interest of public health and in order to reassure the public?


asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware of the widespread dissatisfaction and anxiety felt with regard to the use of deleterious Chinese flour in the baking of bread; and what steps he proposes to take to reassure the public?


I have been asked to reply to these questions. My attention has been called to the analytical report in question and also to other newspaper reports referring to the occurrence of cases of illness (especially skin eruptions) alleged to have been due to the consumption of bread made from Chinese flour. I have caused inquiries to be made into these allegations, but they have failed to establish any casual connection between the flour in question and the illness complained of. Examination of some of the cases of skin eruption showed that they were due to scabies or "itch," an infectious parasitic condition which is not associated in any way with food. In samples of the flour, which I have caused to be examined, no flour other than that of wheat has been detected and the condition of the samples in regard to the presence of mites and other insects has been satisfactory.

Forward to