Oral Answers to Questions — Poultry Rationing.

– in the House of Commons on 9th July 1942.

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Photo of Sir John Mellor Sir John Mellor , Tamworth

asked the Minister of Agriculture what steps he proposes to take to alleviate the loss which will be suffered by poultry keepers as a result of the change in the Government's policy?

Photo of Mr Robert Hudson Mr Robert Hudson , Southport

There has been no change in the Government's policy, which is to give priority in supplies of feeding-stuffs to dairy cows and working horses. Owing to the alteration in supplies through circumstances arising out of the war it has been necessary to reduce feeding-stuffs rations, and the reduction has been applied both to commercial and to domestic poultry keepers, as well as to owners of other livestock. I recognise and regret that hardship and loss will be inflicted on commercial and domestic poultry keepers through this reduction, but I am afraid that difficulties of this kind are inevitable under war conditions.

Photo of Sir John Mellor Sir John Mellor , Tamworth

While recognising the necessity for a reduction, may I ask my right hon. Friend whether domestic poultry keepers have not been led into this predicament by previous official statements?

Photo of Mr Robert Hudson Mr Robert Hudson , Southport

No, it was always made clear while foodstuffs were available on the then existing ration that the distribution would take place as at present but that obviously the question was subject to reconsideration if supplies of foodstuffs became shorter.

Photo of Mr Herbert Williams Mr Herbert Williams , Croydon South

Were not the public warned when the wholemeal loaf was introduced that the inevitable result would be a fall in egg production?

Photo of Mr Robert Hudson Mr Robert Hudson , Southport

Yes, Sir. We announced that to the public.

Photo of Sir Godfrey Nicholson Sir Godfrey Nicholson , Farnham

Will my right hon. Friend take early steps to advise domestic poultry keepers of the comparable forms of food that can be collected, such as acorns and similar natural products?

Photo of Mr Robert Hudson Mr Robert Hudson , Southport

I am not at all sure that acorns are particularly good for hens.

Photo of Sir Godfrey Nicholson Sir Godfrey Nicholson , Farnham

Is my right hon. Friend aware that that admittedly unprepared statement of his conflicts with the view of his Department?

Photo of Mr William Cluse Mr William Cluse , Islington South

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether, in view of the decreased allowance of balanced meal to be issued to domestic poultry-keepers, he will continue the past practice of alloting a larger ration of eggs to certain priority classes by allowing the holder of a child's ration book to qualify for more than the standard poultry ration for one bird?

Photo of Mr Robert Hudson Mr Robert Hudson , Southport

It is not possible for me to adopt the hon. Member's suggestion. The food waste normally resulting from feeding the priority classes is no more than that from feeding other persons, and the new arrangements associate the number of birds for which balancer meal is provided with the number of persons providing the household waste. Moreover, one hen should, with reasonably efficient management, provide as many eggs as are likely to be available to the priority classes on their egg registrations.

Photo of Sir Waldron Smithers Sir Waldron Smithers , Chislehurst

Could not many of these difficulties be overcome by closer co-operation between the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Food?

Photo of Sir Joseph Lamb Sir Joseph Lamb , Stone

Will the Minister consider the desirability of instructions being given to allotment holders to see whether they cannot produce on their allotment something which would assist them to maintain their poultry?

Photo of Mr Robert Hudson Mr Robert Hudson , Southport

I think it will be necessary for the ordinary householders, in order to be able to keep more than one or two hens, to call upon supplies from their gardens or allotments.

Mr. Dugdale:

Does not the Minister recognise that while eggs are a luxury for grown-up persons, they are a necessity for small children?

Photo of Mr Robert Hudson Mr Robert Hudson , Southport

Yes, Sir, but an ordinary priority child is at present entitled to about 150 to 160 eggs a year on its ration book, four times the ordinary adult ration, and that is the number of eggs that can reasonably be expected from one hen if properly looked after.