HC Deb 31 July 1946 vol 426 cc184-8W
66. Sir W. Smithers

asked the Minister of Food by what authority some of his officers gave permission for bread to be sold off the ration; and what disciplinary action he proposes to take in such cases.

Mr. Strachey

The permission was given under my authority which derived from Article 28 of Food Rationing (General Provisions) Order.

68. Mr. Rhys

Davies asked the Minister of Food why he did not consult the trade unions covering members engaged in bread distribution as he did the employers before introducing bread rationing; whether he is aware that much of the detailed work of implementing his Regulations fall on those employed in the bread delivery business; and if he will consult them in future when any changes are made in rationing foods of any kind so as to ensure the smooth working of his schemes.

Mr. Strachey

I do not know where the hon. Member can have got this impression. The bread rationing scheme was discussed with representatives of the Trades Union Congress, including, of course, representatives of the trade unions particularly concerned, on 6th June, 1946, and was modified in certain respects as a result of their advice. At subsequent meetings representatives of the distributive workers' organisation were present and all gave me valuable advice.

69. Mr. Lipson

asked the Minister of Food what concessions are made to vegetarians under the bread-rationing scheme.

Mr. Strachey

My scientific advisers assure me that the scale of allowances under the bread rationing scheme are such that there isno need to make allowances to vegetarians.

71. Wing-Commander Robinson

asked the Minister of Food whether he will take steps to amend the Bread Rationing Order so as to enable the staff of small offices and factories to obtain buns and cakes to eat with their rationed tea and milk in the mornings and afternoons, thus enabling the employees of small firms to be in no worse a position than the employees of large firms in this respect.

Mr. Strachey

I should like to do so. But I cannot see a practicable method except by the establishment of a canteen by the firm concerned.

74. Sir W. Smithers

asked the Minister of Food if he can give an estimate of the extra amount of bread, flour and cereals bought in anticipation of bread rationing on 21st July.

Mr. Strachey

In a few weeks I shall have the weekly figures of flour consumption for the periods immediately before and immediately after bread rationing. I shall publish these figures, which will provide an answer to the hon. Member's question.

80. Mr. Edelman

asked the Minister of Food whether he will raise the bread ration of policemen who, by the nature of their work, are prevented from eating in restaurants, who depend considerably on sandwiches for their meals and who, as in Coventry, lack canteen facilities.

Mr. Strachey

I regret that I cannot adopt this suggestion.

81. Mr. Edelman

asked the Minister of Food whether, for the purposes of bread rationing, he will classify as manual workers all policemen who engage in patrol work even when this totals less than 22 hours a week.

Mr. Strachey

I should not feel justified in making the exception suggested by my hon. Friend.

82. Mr. Peter Freeman

asked the Minister of Food how many bakers have been prosecuted as a result of failing to carry out the provisions of bread rationing; what is the total amount of fines im- posed; how many are in prison; and whether he will make a statement on the working of the scheme.

Mr. Strachey

No such prosecutions have been instituted. And I am, of course, most anxious to avoid this. On the other hand, anyone who deliberately breaks the law must and will be prosecuted. In general I will say that our experience of the first 10 days of the scheme is that both the distributive trader and the housewives have assisted it in the most admirable spirit of cooperation. And I should like to take this opportunity of thanking them most sincerely for shouldering what must be a heavy, though an absolutely necessary burden.

85. Mr. Renton

asked the Minister of Food whether he is aware that heavy workers in the retail food trades are experiencing difficulty in obtaining extra bread coupons owing to wrong interpretation by Ministry of Labour officials of the BMW I Schedule, Part II; and whether he will take steps to ensure that this schedule is interpreted in such manner as to include all heavy workers in the retail food trade.

Mr. Strachey

Workers in the retail foods trades are eligible for the manual workers' ration if they are regularly engaged for not less than 22 hours a week in shifting, loading and unloading heavy goods. If my hon. Friend will give me particulars of any specific case I will look into it.

90. Mr. Henderson Stewart

asked the Minister of Food the total quantity of bread, cakes and similar foods which has been declared unfit for human consumption, or otherwise consigned to pigs or waste, since bread rationing was introduced.

Mr. Strachey

I regret that information is not available. I have had very few reports of bread and cakes becoming unfit for human consumption.

91. Mr. Manningham-Buller

asked the Minister of Food the estimated extent of the saving of flour resulting from the first week of bread rationing.

Mr. Strachey

I have not yet sufficient information to make an estimate of the savings.

92. Mr. Driberg

asked the Minister of Food if he is aware that, although roundsmen are eligible for the manual workers' bread ration, self-employed persons who go round delivering goods in rural areas for as much as 30 hours a week are not so eligible; and if, in view of the fact that the conditions of work and the difficulties of obtaining food of such persons are comparable with those of employed roundsmen, he will correct this anomaly.

Mr. Strachey

For the purposes of the manual workers bread ration no distinction is drawn between employed and self-employed roundsmen. But I regret that I cannot extend the schedule of trades and occupations to cover persons other than roundsmen who deliver goods.

101. Mr. Lipson

asked the Minister of Food what amount of bread, cakes and pastries have been condemned as unfit for human consumption since bread rationing was introduced; and, to prevent waste in future, if he will allow unsold bread, cakes and pastries to be sold, or given, without coupons to hospitals, orphanages and similar institutions.

Mr. Strachey

As regards the first part of the Question, I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply given to the hon. Member for East Fife (Mr. Henderson Stewart). I do not anticipate that there will be any substantial waste in future and I do not think it is necessary to make any arrangement suggested by the hon. Member.

102. Mr. Wilson Harris

asked the Minister of Food whether, in view of the latest crop estimates, he will make a further statement on bread rationing.

Mr. Strachey

No, Sir. The latest crop estimates are only one factor in a complex situation and it would be premature for me to make any further statement at present.

103. Mr. Chamberlain

asked the Minister of Food whether, in view of the congestion at food offices and to assist both housewives and food office staffs, he will abolish the system of exchanging surplus bread units and points through these offices, and will attain the same objectives by making it possible to purchase points goods with surplus bread units and bread with surplus points.

Mr. Strachey

No, Sir. I will send my hon. Friend a copy of my reply to a somewhat similar Question by the hon. Members for Hemel Hempstead (Viscountess Davidson) and West Lewis-ham (Mr. Skeffington) on 10th July.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

asked the Minister of Food whether he is satisfied that the proposed bread ration for the age groups 5 to 11 years is adequate for the maintenance of health.

Mr. Strachey

Yes, Sir.

Sir W. Smithers

asked the Minister of Food if he will take the necessary steps to ensure that those manual workers who indulge in unofficial strikes shall have their bread ration card withdrawn, or at least that their bread ration for the period in which they are on strike shall be reduced from 15 ounces to 9 ounces a day.

Mr. Strachey

No, Sir.

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