Food control has been in force for many weeks in Reading – but at Henley or Windsor one can buy anything one wants

Workers at Reading Prison were annoyed that the internees got more food than they could get themselves under the new rationing regime.

23rd Feby 1918
Subject Interned Aliens diets

Before issuing instructions as to these diets I think it desirable to point out that they are considerably in excess of those allowed by the Local Food Controller for everyone in the Boro of Reading, and that the Wardens have strongly resented the great excess, especially of meat, which these Aliens and Undesirables have been given in the past over the amount they have been allowed to obtain for themselves and families foe the last four or six weeks. People outside have also expressed their opinion freely – for the present Diet Scale just received the meat ration is:

15 oz meat – presumably cooked
2 ½ oz preserved meat
½ oz bacon (uncooked) – we use pork (salt) in place of bacon

The ration allowed here to be purchased by Wardens and others, is 8 oz uncooked meat with bone per head per week, and this I am today informed is to continue for next three weeks – after that he cannot say. Children half this amount. Bacon – unobtainable.

Tea: ration allowed for the prisoners is 1 1/6 oz per week. Everyone else in Reading, 1 oz per week.

I do not know if the Prison is in the Boro or not, but believe not – at any rate it is the County Coroner who holds inquests and I was informed by Mr Friend who was chaplain here for over 40 years that the Prison was not in the Boro, also non-Parochial – this affected him sometimes, as regarded his preaching in various churches, which he could not otherwise have done – also no officers in quarters have municipal votes. My reason for raising this point is that the butcher states that if he supply excess meat to the Prison, and it is in the Boro, he renders himself liable to prosecution for breaking the local food laws. On the other hand if the Prison is not in the Boro, though he might be called to account for selling meat, he is not supplying it to anyone in the Boro.

Each District appears to make its own laws quite independent of any law issued by the Food Control as managed by Lord Rhondda – & Reading appears to be badly served. I believe the London Scheme begins Monday – here food control has been in force for many weeks. Again, at Henley or Windsor one can buy anything one wants. I think it proper for me to report all this to the Commissioners, who can then give me instructions. If of course the Prison is not in the Boro – it would, I suppose, as a Home Office institution be in the London District, and the Local Food Controls would not apply as regards the Prison receiving – but might and probably would as regards the contractors’ supplying, but it would clear the Prison from legal action.

C M Morgan
Gov
[To] The Commissioners

I would suggest that the Aliens receive the same rations of meat, tea and whatever may be rationed, as the remainder of Reading receives – if it increases this would increase up to the amount of the Rhondda fixed scale. If it decreases this would do so accordingly.

CMM

Reading Prison [Place of Internment] letter book (P/RP1/8/2/1)

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Growls and Curses at food restrictions and profiteering

The Welsh Liberal politician David Thomas, newly created Viscount Rhondda (1856-1918), was in charge of the food rationing programme. Shortages were beginning to hit home, even at the lavish tables of Oxbridge colleges, while the government was encouraging communal feeding at National Kitchens.

29 Barton Road
6 Feb. ‘18
Right dear old man

Rhondda does his best to increase our discomfort. (Is he a Caius man, by the by?) There is a patriotic Mrs Goodchild, now at your Pepper’s Farm, who has taken a fancy to the Signora, and has permitted her to register for Butter. Mrs G is something of an authority in butter, and her uxorious spouse has just bought her a couple of £70 milch cows, for the better carrying out of her hobby: and great has been the press of University ladies to register with her – far more than she can accept. And so all was well. We confronted the future with peace – Then came a Rhondda ukase that all farmers must sell their butter to grocers, and the Public buy it nowhere except at a shop. More Profiteering! I had hitherto bought mine from an old lady, who sells vegetables from a cart, and possesses one cow – which by this time should be dry.

Growls and Curses. Perhaps they reached his lordship’s ears. For now we learn (so the Signora informs me) that He sanctions direct dealing with farmers and d— the Middleman.

But you should see the straits for Meat. One Sunday was Jointless. Warrington sent it on Monday instead. At the Trinity High Table there are two meatless days in the week: but they have choice fish then, turbot, larges soles, etc. 2 more, they have game and poultry – and 3, meat. But always they have as much in quantity, as many helps as you desire. Prof. Levis is my authority. I haven’t dined yet.

A communal kitchen has been started at Gresham College with cells in various parts of the town – one is near us, and Florence was appealed to, twice, to serve. The first time she refused: but on the second effort she offered to go each Monday, or, if herself prevented, to send Ann. (You remember Ann, who is a capital parlour maid.) “You won’t hear any more of that, Mrs Image”: said Mabel Lassetter. And she didn’t. This apparently is NOT the view of Rhondda, who deprecates any hint of charity or patronage, and wishes the kitchen to be called National, instead of Communal. And we hear that all ranks, Maids and Mistresses, are serving them in London. Florrie holds the like views, and she rubbed them in well, before she left.

Letter from John Maxwell Image, Cambridge don, to W F Smith (D/EX801/2)