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Fruit And Vegetables

Volume 438: debated on Monday 9 June 1947

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asked the Minister of Food whether he will take steps to eliminate the profit margins on the sale of fruit and vegetables which are accruing to certain classes of middlemen who have ceased to perform any useful function.

I share my hon. Friend's anxiety to reduce the price of foodstuffs wherever possible, but I do not think that profit margins are provided under the fresh fruit and vegetable price orders for middlemen who are not performing a useful function.

Does not my right hon. Friend consider that the profit margins, indeed, any profit at all, should be determined by the functions performed today, and not those performed before the war and before the very considerable degree of bulk buying and selling was introduced?

I take my hon. Friend's point, but we believe that, on the whole, the middlemen engaged in the trade at the moment—I do not say in every instance, but by and large—are performing a useful function.

Will my right hon. Friend look into the position regarding certain commodities, where it appears that payments are made to wholesalers who are performing no function at all, even though they may have performed some function before the war? Will he look into this point, with a view to rearranging the system or bringing this pernicious system to an end?

I am not suggesting that the present system will do as a permanent basis of distribution for the long-term future. That is certainly another matter.


asked the Minister of Food whether he is aware that the supply of fresh fruit in Croydon is inadequate and compares unfavourably with other areas; and what steps he proposes to take to remedy this situation.

Fruit is not plentiful anywhere at this season, but Croydon has had as many allocations of the fruits controlled by my Department as the rest of the South of England.

In view of the fact that that statement would not be agreed to by any person in Croydon, will my right hon. Friend look into this matter again, because I think there is a definite inequality now?