Adams asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food whether he has considered the desirability of introducing the turn system for all un-rationed foods, namely, fish, tomatoes, fruit, etc., whereby registered customers would each be issued with a card, to be stamped upon purchase, when all customers would have an equal chance of obtaining such goods, unavailable at present to many working women?
§ Mr. Mabane
My Noble Friend has considered such schemes as my hon. Friend suggests, but has found it impracticable to apply them. Any such scheme, particularly if it depended on registration would in effect ration the foods in question, and rationing, involving as it does the complete control of supplies and distribution by means of permits or vouchers, and implying a sense of entitlement, cannot be applied where supplies are fluctuating and uncertain. In the case of fish, tomatoes and soft fruit, distribution and zoning schemes ensure as far as possible that each district obtains supplies in proportion to its population. Moreover, many retailers already make every effort to divide these commodities equitably among their regular customers. As regards the last part of my hon. Friend's Question, arrangements exist whereby when women workers report food shopping difficulties the local welfare officer of the Ministry of Labour, in cooperation with the divisional and local officers of my Department, will, if he thinks it necessary, take the initiative in arranging meetings of those concerned (workers, retailers, shop assistants, etc.) with a view to framing a local scheme to ameliorate the situation. Many such schemes make use of shopping cards, which are honoured by retailers on an unofficial equal share basis as scarce unrationed foods become available. My Noble Friend is satisfied that such local schemes are more effective than any method which attempted to deal with the problem on a national scale.