HORNSEY FOOD CONTROL COMMITTEE

An Article from the Hornsey Journal, 24th January 1919

A meeting of the Hornsey Food Control Committee was held at the offices, Topsfield Parade, Crouch End, on Saturday afternoon. 

The Kitchens

The Kitchens Committee reported that the question of continuing to open the kitchen at Crouch End in the evenings had been considered, and it had been decided that a further period of trial should be given. They had considered various ways in which the kitchen might be improved, and the suggestions made were being put into operation.

An inspectress had visited the premises on behalf of the Ministry of Food, and the latter, while pointing out certain minor things which might be improved, gave a very satisfactory report on the cooking, service, and general management, and congratulated the Committee on the good start which had been made.

It was decided that the rooms above the kitchens shall be let as residential houses. The fitting up of the Campsbourne kitchens, it was stated, was well advanced, and it had been decided that Mrs West should be invited to open them on Saturday, 1st February.

The Staff

The Staffs Sub-Committee reported having had under consideration the question whether it was advisable to reduce the clerical staff. As some members were applying for other situations, and an extra work was being thrown upon the office through the granting of a free change of retailers, it was recommended that no reduction should be made … and this was agreed to.

They also recommended that the weekly wages of members of the staff who were over 20 years of age, and in receipt of less than 30s. per week, should be increased to that sum. This affected six members of staff who are at present receiving 27s. 6d. per week. There was also a recommendation that the wages of another member of staff, now doing more responsible work, should be increased from 30s. to 32s. 6d. per week.

Mr Macpherson said that when the young ladies were promoted to these positions they found them competent to do the work.

“Utopian Talk”

Mr. Cook said now that freights had been lowered and ships were more or less secure there was a tendency in some quarters to get free from control. In the circumstances this would be a reactionary step. Freedom should come naturally and not be forced by visiting interests. He advised the Committee to watch the big companies, who were clamouring for release from control.

He also stated there was a tendency at the Ministry of Food to get rid of the Consumers’ Council, who had opposed the Food Controller on the milk question, and to set up a Ministry of Supply in its place. The Chairman said he had always regarded Mr Cook and his friends as advocates of a free and open market.

Mr Cook said that was so – at the proper time. But the position was being forced. He cited the case of tea, of which there were larger stocks in the country than in pre-war time. The big merchants, he said, desired to be free from control, stating they could supply one class of tea at 1s. 4d. per pound and a better quality at 3s. or 4s. But people did not want tea that they could not drink at 1s. 4d, and the only alternative to it was tea at a price they could not afford to pay.

Mr Macpherson asked the Labour representatives how they would deal with these big combines. Mr Cutting replied that the Government should take over the entire supply and distribution of foodstuffs. Battersea and Blackpool dealt with their milk supply. The Chairman: And the milk roundsmen become civil servants.

Mr Macpherson said that food supplies had been dealt with in Australian cities during the war, and the prices reduced in some instances by 50 per cent.

The Chairman said it was Utopian talk. It would never happen in England.

Mr Cook: Never prophesy until you know.

The Chairman: You will never find the Government take control of the entire foodstuffs of the country.

After more good-humoured bandinage the members found common ground in regard to increased home production, and the Chairman then ventured a further prophecy – that they might yet all be on a common platform.

(Editor’s note: This is an abridged version of the original article. The original article can be consulted at the Old Schoolhouse.)