Food Supplies

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 1st July 1947.

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Photo of Mr John Hare Mr John Hare , Woodbridge 12:00 am, 1st July 1947

Did the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) wish to say something? He does not? My point is that if you can get, as the average towns-worker, does, six mid-day meals a week, good filling meals apart from your wife's meagre domestic family allowance, you are getting far more in food value than the extra ounces of cheese and bread which the agricultural worker gets. There can be no question about that Unlike the case of the hon. Member for Taunton, people come to me and say, "Can you give me any advice as to how I am to go on?" One was a man who had been working in a factory during the war, who had been used to getting his midday meals in his factory canteen. He has now started a business as an agricultural engineer repairing farm implements and so on. He has a wife and five children, and last week he said to me, "My business is going fine. I have more than I can possibly cope with, but I am working 60 or 65 hours a week. I get no extra rations. My wife is desperate. She cannot keep me or my family going."

That is a true story. I know there are a lot of small people connected directly with the agricultural industry who do not get extra rations, in areas far away from towns and the restaurant facilities which the townsman enjoys. I hope the Minister will consider carefully whether he cannot include more of these people—because they are part and parcel of agriculture—in what I was going to call the rather niggardly extra allowance of bread and cheese. I suggested to the Minister a year ago that somehow he should start up a system of mobile canteens in these rural areas. He did it in the war. They went out to the "ack-ack" sites, searchlight units, etc.

If my contention is correct that the agricultural community—even the agricultural worker with his extra bread and cheese—is not getting as fair a share of the total ration allotment as the townsman, surely, the Government should be responsible for 'working out some scheme to get a mobile canteen system going throughout the villages of our countryside. I believe the vehicles are largely there. They can be provided from Service vehicles which, I hope, will become increasingly surplus in large numbers. I believe we could get both a voluntary and professional team of drivers to run such a service. I am sorry the hon. Lady the Parliamentary Secretary is not in the Chamber, but I hope she will give consideration to that point when she comes to answer the Debate.

The Minister quoted in justification of the extra ration for miners that they are not in a sedentary occupation. I believe our agricultural workers are also going to be largely responsible for whether or not this country will ride the coming economic crisis. Unless we can give these men extra food, we are not going to get that increase of home food production on which the Minister has set his heart. I hope the Minister will consider what I have said, and give more to these men, who are only too willing to respond to the Government's call for extra productivity in the industry. I hope they will be given a bit of extra food.' In many cases they work 60 hours a week, and in harvest time they have to do a lot of overtime. I hope that in an industry where such long hours are worked, and where the manual work is so hard, the Government will think again, and try to increase the existing ration.