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Volume 411: debated on Wednesday 6 June 1945

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asked the Minister of Food whether he is aware of the extreme shortage of fruit reaching retailers; to what extent this is due to the diversion of supplies through other channels in which exorbitant prices are obtained; and what steps he is taking to deal with this matter.

Yes, Sir; because the sale of soft fruit has only just started. I have no evidence of sales through any but the normal trade channels, and when we have sufficient evidence that a sale contravenes our maximum price order a prosecution is instituted.

If the Minister has no information what are his enforcement officers and the police doing?

I regret to say that we have had quite a number of prosecutions, mainly of street fruit hawkers, for charging above the maximum prices.

Can the Minister tell us why it is possible to buy British strawberries in expensive restaurants at 2s. 6d. per dish or portion, and it is not possible to buy them in ordinary shops, through the normal channels?

Strawberries are only to be found in restaurants; they cannot be found in the ordinary markets.

Can the Minister assure the House that his lack of information is not due to any reluctance on the part of the Government to enforce adequate control?

I can certainly inform the hon. Member of that, and tell him that the policy I have pursued as Minister of Food is just the same to-day as it was a year ago.