A History of the Ministry of Information, 1939-46

Section 2. Reasons Advanced for Approval or Disapproval

A. Approval

The overwhelming reason for approval springs from acceptance of the scheme’s main point. About one quarter qualified their approval.

% of Sample % of those approving Reasons for Approval
1. 31.1% 66.8% “Children come first, Children need vitamins, Children need them for their health.”
2. 12% 25.6% Approval in similar terms, but with qualifications such as giving oranges to other groups or criticising distribution.
3. 1.7% 3.7% “Because I have children of my own”
4. 1.8% 3.9% No reason given.
46.6% 100%


Qualified Approval 12% 10.5% Invalids and old people should be included.
Children come first 31% 28.5% Older children should be included.
9.2% Everybody should be able to get oranges
Approval 46.6% Disapproval 48.7%
Don’t know 4.7%
56 37

Social Groups

Different family composition in the various groups is of obvious relevance to an analysis of the reasons for approving or disapproving such a scheme.

Mouths per family 3.9 3.26 3.54 3.74
Adults per family 3.34 2.72 2.75 2.5

It will be seen that the proportions of infants and older children in families is higher in the lower income groups than others. These lower income groups had a majority disapproving of the scheme (51.5% as against 43.6% approving).

There are no signicant differences between social groups as to reasons advanced for approval of the scheme.

Family Types

It was shown above that families with infants were more in favour of the scheme than families with older children. This is emphasized by the reasons advanced for approval in the different types. The figures below are proportions of those approving.

Reasons for Approval Families with over 18s only Over 18s and under 5 only Over 18 and 5-18 only Over 18 and both under 5 and 5-18
1. Children should come first, etc. 71.7 6.4 58.7 66.3
2. Same as 1 but with qualifications 25.0 17.3 36.5 23.5
3. Because I have children of my own 0.9 16.2 1.1 4.8
4. No reason given 2.4 3.1 3.7 5.4

It will be seen that the proportion of qualified approval is highest in families with older children only and of course 1 and 3 taken together are highest in families with under 5s .


The proportions giving as their reason for approval 1 (Children must come first, etc.) were highest in Scotland, N. and N.E. and S. West. It is interesting that only in S. West was the proportion of the sample approving the scheme much above average (see Section 1). The proportion of qualified approval was highest in S. Wales, N. Midlands, N. West and Midland.

The differences in family composition regionally are not big enough to explain these differences.

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B. Disapproval .

The chief reason for disapproval was a desire for the scheme to include older children. Another reason advanced by a substantial proportion of the sample was the need to include other groups of the population.

% of Sample % of those approving Reasons for Approval
1. 9.2% 19% Everyday should be able to get oranges.
2. 28.5% 58.7% Older children should be included.
3. 10.5% 21.6 Invalids and old people should be included.
4. 1.0% 2.2% People in special jobs should be included.
43.6% 89% Total wanting to include others

(Some people mentioned more than one group)

% of Sample % of those approving Reasons for Approval
5. 1.0% 2.1% Distribution should be through schools.
6. 2.8% 6.1% Parents and grown-ups and adults without children are getting them
7. 1.0% 2.0% Oranges are going bad
4.8% 10.2% Total criticising distribution

It will be seen that faults in distribution are suggested by a small proportion only. It will be remembered that some of the subjects whilst approving yet qualified their approval for different reasons. If these qualifications be added to those disapproving for specific reasons the total criticising the scheme for these reasons is:

33.7% of sample Older children should be included
14.0% of sample Invalids and old people should be included.
52.5% of sample Total wanting to include others.

Social Groups

A B C D Reasons for Disapproval
22.7 35.7 17.0 19.1 Everyone should have a share.
56 21.2 61.9 61.5 Older children should be included.
15.1 37.3 20.2 20.8 Invalids and old people should be included
3.1 2.0 2.7 People in special jobs should be included.
84.0% 78% 89% 91.2% Total wanting to include others
16.0% 22% 11% 8.8% Total criticising distribution.

The proportions of B group wishing others besides children to be included are considerably higher than in other social groups, whilst the proportion in the B group wishing older children to be included is much lower than in other groups.

Family Types

A lower proportion of the families with adults only (40.5%) wished the scheme to include older children than in other family types (73% - 80%), whilst a higher proportion of families with adults only than other families wished the scheme to include invalids and old people (29% as against 15%) or wished everybody to have access to oranges (31% as against 8%) than in other groups.

From these figures it would appear that the extension of the scheme to some other groups would considerably enhance its appeal. This seems particularly to be a possibility in the case of lower income groups in whose families there are more older children than in higher income groups. These lower income groups are of course the greater part of the population, and the inclusion of older children would on the basis of these figures raise their approval of the scheme to 75% of all families in these groups.



36.2% 60.3% 2.3% 1.2%
Papers or Magazines Wireless Posters. Others.
59 39


All housewives interviewed were asked to answer a series of questions exploring attitudes to the various means of publicity used by the Ministry of Food.

The questions fall into two groups, (a) the first question asks housewives to indicate which particular medium would suit them best (b)the other three question attempt to assess the penetration of three types of publicity - Food Facts notices, Cinema Slides and Demonstrations.

Information from both samples (which were similar) has been used for this section. The information is not, however, very detailed, and this must only be regarded as a preliminary study.

The results from both samples were used as well to check the validity of the sampling method. This is discussed in the appendix on the sample.

Summary .

1. A clear majority of housewives prefer the Wireless to Newspapers or other methods of publicity for Food advertisements. This preference is marked in the lower income groups, but is common to all groups.

2. Similar reasons were advanced for choosing the medium they preferred by housewives choosing the Wireless or Newspapers.

79% of those prefering the Wireless indicated that they gave regular attention to the Wireless or had come to rely upon it.

85% of those preferring Newspapers indicated that they made a practice of reading Newspapers.

3. This preference for Wireless is common to all regions.

4. Only small minorities of the sample had attended Food Demonstrations or had seen Ministry of Food Slides in Cinemas. The proportions varied regionally, but it is not possible to say whether this reflects local opportunities for witnessing such advertisements.

5. Nearly three-quarters of the sample had seen “Food Facts” notices. Some evidence is offered in confirmation of this verbal response, and the differences between social groups corresponded with the different proportions in the social groups preferring Newspaper Advertisements.



The Reasons given by housewives for given preferences .

It’s understandable You can cut things out, keep papers by you
Rely on it, I trust it. Paper can be read [Text Missing]anything
Always listen for news Have no wireless but see paper.
Often have wireless on. Always read paper don’t always listen.
Wireless. Others. Newspapers.

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