MAF 67 - Ministry of Food, Food Control Committees, Select Minutes.

This series contains the minutes, correspondence, and other documentation of local Food Control Committees across the U.K., a regional selection of which has been digitized as part of this resource.

At the outbreak of the Second World War, local authorities were empowered under the terms of the Food Control Committees (Constitution) Order (S.R. & O. 1019), to appoint Food Control Committees to represent the interests of the buying public, and to provide a link between the Ministry of Food and local opinion. Local authorities were designated as appointing authorities because they were in the best position to select persons representative of all classes of the community. These committees, once appointed, had no further connection with the local authorities, instead deriving all their powers from the Ministry of Food.

The minister entrusted various functions to Food Control Committees, the most important of which were the enforcement of his orders, the licensing of local retailers and caterers, and the registration of consumers in each area.

  • Enforcement: committees appointed small sub-committees to consider local cases of infringement of all but a few of the minister's orders. If they were satisfied that a charge or complaint was well founded, they had powers to prosecute before a Court of Summary Jurisdiction, but where the case was considered trifling, they could decide to issue warning notices only. They were assisted in this field by local or divisional enforcement inspectors who carried out all investigations.
  • Licensing: committees were also required to consider and issue licences to retailers and catering establishments (other than industrial canteens), and to manufacturers of bread and flour confectionery. Where licences were refused, applicants had the right of appeal to the ministry, and in such cases the committee could be asked to reconsider its decision. Where licensees were convicted of serious offences, committees were empowered to ask that the minister use his powers to revoke the licence.
  • Consumer registration: committees were responsible for the issuing of ration documents to consumers, and for deciding upon all applications to change registrations from one retailer to another, except in cases where removal took place.

Committees were appointed annually, selecting their own chairman and vice chairman. They had no power to co-opt members, but could call in representatives of the retail food trades in an advisory capacity, but without voting power. The Food Executive Officer, who was responsible for the administration of the local Food Office, was the chief officer serving the committee, and acted as its secretary. He was responsible for advising the chairman when required, and was the link between the committee and the ministry. As the committees were primarily representative of consumer interests, it was laid down that two-thirds of each committee should have no connection with the food trade. There were usually ten consumer members and five trade members on each committee, each of the latter representing a branch of the retail trade, and nominated by the local retail food trade associations. In addition, one trade (employee) member was appointed to represent the local retail shop assistants and, in many areas, one consumer member was a trade unionist nominated by the local Trades Council. All committees had at least two women consumer members to represent the interests of local housewives. These appointments were all subject to the minister's approval.

With the end of rationing and controls on 3rd July, 1954, the work of the Food Control Committees came to an end. Many of the committees had ceased to meet many months before because the easing of restrictions had left them with practically nothing to do. Where this occurred, the Food Executive Officer was authorised in consultation with the chairman to act on their behalf whenever necessary.

The following abbreviations have been used at the end of each file title to indicate the type of local authority: C.B. = County Borough; U.D. = Urban District; M.B. = Municipal Borough; R.D. = Rural District.

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