Catalogue descriptionBoard of Trade and successors: Food (Defence Plans) Department: Registered Files
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Details of MAF 72
Board of Trade and successors: Food (Defence Plans) Department: Registered Files
Files dealing with plans to procure, control and distribute food in wartime, and the co-ordination of food supply policy with other departments. The series contains some later papers of the second Ministry of Food, and records of the Overseas Purchases Board. It also includes papers of Sir Ernest Gowers resulting from an enquiry into food storage problems.
For related papers on Animal Feeding Stuffs see MAF 79
See also the emergency services, regional and local planning file series in MAF 341
Board of Trade, Food (Defence Plans) Department, 1937-1939
Ministry of Food, 1939-1955
Overseas Purchases Board, 1935-1936
Administrative / biographical background:
The Food (Defence Plans) Department was created in December 1938 as a sub-department of the Board of Trade. Its purpose was to formulate plans for the procurement, control and distribution of food during a major war. The department maintained close contact with the Minister for Co-ordination of Defence, the Committee of Imperial Defence and its sub-committees on Food Supply in Time of War and Distribution of Imports in Time of War, the General Department of the Board of Trade, the Air Raid Precautions Department of the Home Office and the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries. It also maintained liaison with Sir Ernest Gowers about the storage of food and consulted the Treasury and other departments as necessary.
The department prepared advance plans for execution by the Board of Trade immediately on the outbreak of war, and by the Ministry of Food as soon as it was constituted. The headquarters and local organisations were based on the existing procurement and distributive machinery operated by private traders. On the approach of war, substantial reserve stocks of whale oil (for the manufacture of margarine), wheat and sugar were bought without disturbing sensitive world markets. Ration books and other rationing documents were designed, printed and stored at strategic points while the necessary legislation was drafted. Arrangements were made for the setting up of local food offices and local food control committees within the framework of local government.
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