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Tea

Volume 437: debated on Monday 5 May 1947

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31.

asked the Minister of Food the total amount of tea imported and consumed in this country, respectively, from 1st January, 1946, to 31st March, 1947.

Figures for the precise period mentioned are not available, so I will give those for the nearest comparable dates. Between 29th December, 1945, and 28th March, 1947, 485.4 million lb. of tea arrived in this country, and 531 million lb. were allocated for home consumption.

In view of the facts given by the hon. Lady, which show a diminution in stocks, would she tear down a few more of the veils existing between the public and the Government about tea and tell us the real position, whether a ration is going to be imposed, and if the price increase is going to be passed on to the public, or carried in other ways?

I think the hon. Gentleman knows that negotiations are going on at the present moment. Therefore, it would be inadvisable to give all the information for which he asks.

42.

asked the Minister of Food if he will now give details of the tea stocks in this country; what are the prospects of maintaining the tea ration; and if he will give an assurance that, in any event, the ration to old age pensioners will be maintained.

It would not be in the public interests to disclose the quantity of tea held in stock in this country. Until the negotiations now in progress are completed, it is impossible to assess fully the prospects of maintaining the existing tea ration or to give the assurance asked for. It is my right hon. Friend's intention, however, to maintain the ration to old age pensioners if at all possible.