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Camembert Cheese

Volume 438: debated on Wednesday 4 June 1947

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asked the Minister of Food if he is aware that, on Saturday, 3rd May, 1947, Camembert cheese was not available to old-established cheesemongers in the central area of London but was fully available at the general stores of Marks and Spencer, Limited, Oxford Street; and if it is the policy of his Department to ignore the wel-recognised channels of distribution for foodstuffs generally and give preference to new entrants.

Camembert cheese is distributed under the points scheme, so the Ministry does not regulate distribution as between individual traders beyond the first-hand stage. First-hand distributors are instructed by my Department to offer supplies as fairly as possible to those who bought French cheese from them before the war. It is still our policy to use the normal channels of distribution so long as the interests of consumers are not prejudiced.

Is the Minister of opinion that a chain store of the character of Messrs. Marks and Spencer, Limited, is a well-recognised channel for the distribution of French cheese?

I will not express an opinion on that, but if we were to determine the channels through which all points goods, after first-hand, are to go, it would involve an enormous increase in those controls which the hon. Member does not favour.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that his Department is still giving instructions to local food control committees to extend the activities of Messrs. Marks and Spencer and the like in selling points goods which they never sold before the war?

Is the Minister aware that the cost of distribution through chain stores like Messrs. Marks and Spencer is infinitely smaller than through the more old-fashioned channels of distribution?