asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster whether all plans have been completed for the inland storage of adequate reserves of imported food, grains, meat, and pastoral products to cover demand for an ox tended period, so that storage accommodation may not have to be arranged in a hurry and at the last moment should necessity arise?
asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster whether the Government has had a complete survey of all food storage accommodation in the country under the powers given by the Essential Commodities Reserves Act, 1938, or otherwise; and what action it has taken to utilise accommodation which is, or could be made, suitable for that purpose though not specially designed for it?
Existing storage accommodation, a substantial part of which is inland, is used for the storage of Government reserves, when such accommodation is suitable and when it is available in the light of commercial requirements which vary from time to time. In some cases the accommodation has been specially adapted. Accommodation has been erected for Government reserves when existing accommodation has been unsuitable or insufficient. Close examination has been given, in connection with the plans for importation and distribution in time of war, to the availability in convenient centres of accommodation which would serve for storage purposes and a record has been prepared of suitable accommodation. Steps are being taken to provide adequate accommodation to meet the estimated requirements and arrangements have been made for the removal and storage inland of commercial stocks of certain important commodities should the necessity arise.
I could not quite say that because some of the existing storage is unsuitable for these reserves by reason either of its construction or of its location. Also a great deal of the storage is commercial storage, the call upon which varies from time to time. But I can go is far as to say that all public storage is adequately utilised.
Can the right hon. Gentleman say by what date he expects the storage that is required for food to be, in his own words adequate; and can he tell us whether the amount of food storage in this country is as great as that which Germany has provided?
I would require notice of the second part of the hon. Member's question. In regard to the first part, it would be impossible to give an accurate date because the situation as regards reserves is being reviewed from time to time in the light of the general situation, and as it is not a case of a static requirement, it is impossible to prognosticate an exact date.
Has my right hon. Friend made inquiries as to the extensive and excellent accommodation available in makings, and also perhaps in distilleries and breweries which is not utilised at present, and will he take a census of available accommodation?
We have made inquiries into the question of the storage which is available. I will pay particular attention to the aspect of the question to which my hon. Friend refers.
As the right hon. Gentleman is aware, I did make a statement on that question on 5th July. From the correspondence that has reached me, I think it has had a great deal of publicity, but I am taking steps to inquire whether it cannot be more widely disseminated.
In drawing up the scheme and making arrangements for the storage of food, have the representatives of the workers of the country been consulted at any stage to see whether they think the plans are adequate?
I would not like to say offhand, but I will make inquiries as to what consultations have been held. I do know, however, that a generous allowance is made for those engaged in heavy work.
Will the right hon. Gentleman realise that it is important that the workers should be satisfied, and if that consideration has not been borne in mind, will he undertake to have such consultations?