A History of the Ministry of Information, 1939-46



This investigation was undertaken for the Scottish Departments of Health and Education, who wanted information on the following questions:-

  1. 1. What is the consumption of both oatmeal and potatoes in the average household?

  2. 2. In what form are oatmeal and potatoes prepared?

  3. 3. How many households serve porridge every morning?

  4. 4. Do any have porridge for meals other than breakfast?

  5. 5. If porridge is not taken, is any other cereal used?

  6. 6. What are the objections to the use of oatmeal, particularly in making porridge?

  7. 7. Has there been any reduction in the consumption of flaked oats in favour of oatmeal since flaked oats were put on the points rationing scheme?

  8. 8. Besides porridge, to what other uses is oatmeal put, e.g. oatcake making, etc?

  9. 9. How many households use potatoes for meals other than dinner? Has any attempt been made to substitute potatoes for bread, say, when making soup?

  10. 10.What are the most popular kinds of potatoes, and are there complaints about the quality of potatoes sold?

The results of the survey are dealt with in two sections:-

  1. A The consumption of oatmeal

  2. B The consumption of potatoes

The investigation was carried out between the 11th and 20th March, 1943. 24 trained investigators interviewed 1,536 housewives. The sample was selected so as to represent in the correct proportion the different age and income groups, women with and without children, women who went out to work, and those who did not.

All the questions were analysed under these group headings, but the results are only presented in the report if the group differences were statistically significant.

For convenience Scotland was divided into four regions, West, East, South East and North and North East.

The sample of 1536 was too small to allow of its distribution among these four regions in proportion to their population. To prevent a consequent bias in the results, the regional figures have been suitably weighted (the distribution of the sample, and the weighting figures used are given in Appendix I).

The investigation was well received by the housewives, and the questions answered with interest.

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