Sweets (Supplies)

Oral Answers to Questions — Food Supplies – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 22nd June 1949.

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Photo of Mr Stephen Swingler Mr Stephen Swingler , Stafford 12:00 am, 22nd June 1949

asked the Minister of Food what is the weekly quantity of sweets and chocolates per head of the population now being produced.

Photo of Mr Evelyn Strachey Mr Evelyn Strachey , Dundee

The weekly production of sweets and chocolates is at present about 5 oz. per head of the population.

Photo of Mr Stephen Swingler Mr Stephen Swingler , Stafford

In view of the increased quantity of sweets now being produced, is it not a fact that some retailers are getting fewer sweets from their wholesalers than they did before derationing? Is my right hon. Friend satisfied that any improvement is taking place in distribution?

Photo of Mr Evelyn Strachey Mr Evelyn Strachey , Dundee

Distribution is carried out by the trade, but I should be very surprised if it was a fact that any retailer was actually getting fewer sweets.

Photo of Mr William Keenan Mr William Keenan , Liverpool Kirkdale

Is my right hon. Friend aware that in spite of improved supplies to the trade, it is impossible to get sweets in any industrial area without having to queue, and that the only remedy is to get back to rationing?

Mrs. Paton:

Is my right hon. Friend aware that many people have not seen any chocolate since derationing? People are asking where it is. Can my right hon. Friend tell us?

Photo of Mr Evelyn Strachey Mr Evelyn Strachey , Dundee

Chocolates are being bought and eaten but it is true that distribution is far more uneven than it was under rationing and that that may well be a good reason for reimposing rationing.

Photo of Mr Samuel Silverman Mr Samuel Silverman , Nelson and Colne

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the decision by his Ministry to reimpose sweets rationing would be welcomed by the overwhelming majority of the people?

Photo of Sir James Henderson-Stewart Sir James Henderson-Stewart , Fife Eastern

Is there not an easy solution? Would not the right hon. Gentleman permit the trade to have a further small quantity of ingredients with which to increase supplies—[HON. MEMBERS "He has done so."]—which will immediately resolve all these difficulties?

Photo of Mr Evelyn Strachey Mr Evelyn Strachey , Dundee

There is a Question later on the Order Paper which deals with this matter.

Photo of Mr Philip Piratin Mr Philip Piratin , Stepney Mile End

Is the Minister aware that just before Whitsun the Parliamentary Secretary told the House that steps would be taken, if cases were brought to her notice, to ensure that confectioners received the quantity of sweets they were receiving before derationing. I have received a letter from her since saying that no steps could be taken. I now ask the right hon. Gentleman what steps can be taken to ensure that confectioners get the same quantity of sweets as hitherto?

Photo of Mr Evelyn Strachey Mr Evelyn Strachey , Dundee

Actual distribution from the manufacturer or wholesaler to the retailer is in the hands of the trade, and the total amount now being distributed is so much greater that I very much doubt whether any shop is getting less.

Photo of Mr Stephen Swingler Mr Stephen Swingler , Stafford

asked the Minister of Food the quantities of sugar and fats allocated to manufacturers of sweets and chocolates since derationing; and the quantities allocated in the comparable period before derationing.

Photo of Mr Evelyn Strachey Mr Evelyn Strachey , Dundee

Allocations since de-rationing and for three months before have been at the rate of 15,680 tons of sugar and 865 tons of fats each four-weekly period. In addition, one further allocation of 4,500 tons of sugar and 350 tons of fats has been released for extra production. Allocations for a 4 oz. ration before de-rationing were 13,240 tons of sugar and 730 tons of fats each four-weekly period.

Photo of Mr Stephen Swingler Mr Stephen Swingler , Stafford

In view of the fact that this has enabled production to increase since derationing, will my right hon. Friend take note of the widespread protest which has been made in the House this afternoon against the unfairness caused by derationing?

Photo of Mr Robin Turton Mr Robin Turton , Thirsk and Malton

When the right hon. Gentleman made an increased allocation, did he ask manufacturers to secure even distribution to small shops as well as to large multiple shops and co-operative societies?

Photo of Mr Evelyn Strachey Mr Evelyn Strachey , Dundee

Yes, Sir. Whether we were right in leaving distribution so fully in the hands of the trade is another matter, but I think they are doing their best.

Mr. Ivor Owen Thomas:

Is it not the case that under derationing there is and can be no effective check either on distribution or the amounts produced from the quantity of ingredients supplied?

Photo of Mr Evelyn Strachey Mr Evelyn Strachey , Dundee

I agree with the first part of my hon. Friend's supplementary. Derationing and decontrol of distribution must to some extent, go together. As to the second part, I think manufacturers are producing all the sweets they can with the ingredients they are allowed.

Photo of Captain Albert Blackburn Captain Albert Blackburn , Birmingham King's Norton

asked the Minister of Food what steps he is taking, in view of the dearth of sweets in confectionery shops, to ensure a fair distribution of sweets throughout the community.

Photo of Mr Evelyn Strachey Mr Evelyn Strachey , Dundee

As I said in the House on 3rd June, I shall not hesitate to reimpose rationing if it proves the only remedy for the present state of affairs.

Photo of Captain Albert Blackburn Captain Albert Blackburn , Birmingham King's Norton

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the facts in relation to sweets abundantly prove how right he was to ration bread? Will he make it quite clear, as almost everybody in the country wants rationing of sweets to be reintroduced, that he will take that step at the earliest possible moment if he finds it necessary?

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Sir Thomas Moore Lieut-Colonel Sir Thomas Moore , Ayr District of Burghs

Since the derationing of sweets won the South Hammersmith by-election is it wise to re-impose rationing now or to keep it for the next by-election?

Photo of Mr Evelyn Strachey Mr Evelyn Strachey , Dundee

I think the hon. and gallant Member will find that by-elections can be won quite easily in any case. In answer to my hon. Friend the Member for King's Norton (Mr. Blackburn), I would say that our position on this is quite simple. If in the case of sweets, or any other commodity, the demand at current prices is persistently in excess of the supply then we think rationing is the proper remedy.

Photo of Mr Marcus Lipton Mr Marcus Lipton , Lambeth Brixton

What other remedies, apart from the re-imposition of rationing, is my right hon. Friend considering at the moment?

Photo of Mr Evelyn Strachey Mr Evelyn Strachey , Dundee

I know of no other remedy for the present situation. If it does not right itself with existing supplies, then I think we must re-impose rationing.

Photo of Mrs Lucy Middleton Mrs Lucy Middleton , Plymouth, Sutton

In view of the almost unanimous opinion in the country that rationing should be re-imposed, will not the Minister avoid delay by announcing today that he will re-impose rationing?

Photo of Mr Evelyn Strachey Mr Evelyn Strachey , Dundee

I think it is a little premature to do that. After all, it is only seven weeks since sweets were de-rationed. We must wait a little longer.

Photo of Mr Benn Levy Mr Benn Levy , Eton and Slough

In view of the accumulated evidence, does not my right hon. Friend consider that the time has now really come to set the people free to secure their fair share?

Photo of Sir Arthur Harvey Sir Arthur Harvey , Macclesfield

Will the right hon. Gentleman say why other countries in Europe, occupied by the enemy for many years, have been able to deration sweets and make them available to the public?

Photo of Mr Evelyn Strachey Mr Evelyn Strachey , Dundee

It would be very easy indeed to maintain derationing and to have no queues by simply increasing the price, as has been done in other countries.

Photo of Mr Victor Collins Mr Victor Collins , Taunton

Can my right hon. Friend say how much longer he will defer a decision? Seven weeks have gone by. Does he think another four weeks, or a shorter period?

Photo of Mr Douglas Clifton Brown Mr Douglas Clifton Brown , Hexham

That question has been asked several times.