18 JUNE 1948, Page 5

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food is as

skilful a politician as anyone in the Commons, but even she failed to make anything like a good case out of the shockingly bad case of the grant of a licence for a retail shop in Reading, raised by Mr. Boyd-Carpenter last week. The facts are clear. On September 18th, 1946, an old lady, Mrs. Poole, who carried on a small general business in an obscure street in Reading, died. On October 17th a Mr. Kent applied to the local Food Committee for a retail licence in respect of the premises. He was refused, partly because he had not applied within the statutory ten days and partly because this particular shop was redundant, which no doubt it was. On January 23rd, 1947, a Mr. Grey applied for a similar licence. It was refused by the local Food Committee. He appealed to the Divisional Food Officer—unsuccessfully. He then appealed to the Ministry A Food, through the Minister of National Insurance, who happened to be a distant relative. The latter Minister sent it on to the former, with the remark, " I really would be most grateful if your reconsideration could be given to what seems to be a very hard case." Reconsidera- tion was given ; the regulations were altered, extending the period for application from ten days to three months, with retrospective effect, and a licence was granted to Mr. Grey, though the Food Committee strenuously objected, and though Mr. Grey had not in fact applied within even the extended period of three months. No

one can pretend that this smells good.