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Potatoes (Shortage)

Volume 439: debated on Monday 30 June 1947

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asked the Minister of Food if he is aware of the serious shortage of potatoes in London; and what steps is he taking to meet this and the recurrent shortage of the same commodity at periodic intervals.

I am glad to say that the position has greatly improved, and the rain we have just had should add appreciably to the weight of new supplies. Six months ago a shortage of one month's duration was foreseen for the whole country. Energetic measures were taken to conserve the home crop and to import potatoes, with the result that, in spite of the weather, the shortage was reduced to about one week, and restricted chiefly to London and the South-East. Similar action will be taken, if necessary, in future.

Is the Minister aware that on several occasions there have been serious shortages of potatoes in London, and that, ultimately, the Ministry of Food have taken action to divert supplies? Is it not possible in future for such action to be taken fairly early, so that large numbers of families shall not have to go a whole weekend without potatoes?

Since the introduction of bread rationing the consumption of potatoes has increased by 20 per cent and, therefore, it has been found a little difficult to adjust supplies. But I can assure my hon. Friend that we shall try to guarantee that this will not happen again.

Would the hon. Lady say why it was that the large stocks available in the north of Scotland were not tapped before this shortage took place in London?

We are transporting potatoes from the north of Scotland as quickly as we can.