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Food Supplies

Volume 439: debated on Wednesday 9 July 1947

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Grocery Licence, Louth

50.

asked the Minister of Food why a greengrocery licence has been refused to Mr. Lloyd Abbott, 23, Newbridge Hill, Louth, who gave up his greengrocery business at Tetney on volunteering for service in 1939, and after serving four years abroad in the Royal Tank Regiment, purchased other premises that were previously used as grocers and general dealers.

Mr. Lloyd Ablott has not applied for a licence to sell greengroceries. His application for a licence to sell groceries and for a catering licence was refused by the local Food Control Committee because they do not consider them necessary to meet consumer need, and because Mr. Ablott is not in the priority class. It is open to him to appeal to the divisional food officer against this decision if he wishes to do so.

Is the hon. Lady aware that this man is now drawing unemployment pay for the first time in his life because of the decision of her Department, and does she think that that is a fair reward for a man who has served for six years?

I find that difficult to understand because on 25th November, 1946, we granted this man a licence to sell chocolate and sugar confectionery.

But is it not a fact that the number of coupons the hon. Lady's Department gave the man was 1,800, which would produce him a profit of exactly 29s. a week, on which he is expected to keep a wife and child?

Royal Agricultural Show, Lincoln (Allocations)

51.

asked the Minister of Food if he is aware of the complaints made by the Mayor of Lincoln about the inadequacy of food supplies for the Royal Agricultural Show; and whether it was a local or a London office decision not to accede to the requests of the mayor for better supplies, prior to the opening of the show.

My right hon. Friend has been advised that in spite of the very large attendance food was available for all those at the show. As my right hon. Friend informed the hon. Member on 18th June, he was satisfied with the arrange- ments made beforehand for supplying food at the show itself and in the shops and that catering establishments were also provided for.

Italian Tomatoes (Prices)

52.

asked the Minister of Food whether he is aware that Italian tomatoes are being imported into this country at 2d. per pound and retailed at the maximum price of 1s. 4d. per pound; and what steps he is taking to prevent this profiteering.

Tomatoes imported into this country from Italy, are brought in on private account and I have no precise information about the price paid by the importer. I understand, however, that the price is about 3d. per lb. packed, f.o.r. The first-hand selling price at Covent Garden is 8d. per lb. for sound fruit, out of which about 2—d. per lb. has to be paid for the cost of transport from Italy. There is also an import duty of 2d. per lb., leaving a balance of 3½d. per lb. to cover the cost of the fruit and all other incidental expenses such as packing, packing materials, selling agency charges and the cost of the container. Whilst the maximum retail selling price is at present 1s. 4d. per lb., I am informed that some retailers are selling at is. per lb. and others at as low as 9d. per lb. The margin has, of course, to cover any wastage of over-ripe fruit, which is high in some cases.

May I ask the hon. Lady whether she is aware that the tomatoes were being brought here at the end of last week at between 2d. to 4d. a lb.? Whatever one may think of maximum prices when there is scarcity, it is not generally agreed that when there is a glut or a comparative glut is the time to take maximum prices off, because they at once become minimum prices?

I agree with my hon. Friend. I have explained to the House that that has been our policy in the past. These prices will be reduced on 14th July, but we must bear in mind that "maximum prices" does not mean "minimum prices."

Do I understand the hon. Lady to say that maximum prices are to be reduced?

Will the Minister explain why there is an import duty on these tomatoes?

May I ask the hon. Lady whether she can review the whole of this question of tomatoes? There are far too many speculators in a business where there are many reputable people. A review would be good for the trade and would sort it out.

If the hon. Gentleman will give me the names I will look into the matter.

Colonies (Civil Aviation Routes)

53.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what replies have been received from Colonial Governments to his inquiry whether they would wish, under the terms of Article 5 of the Convention on International Civil Aviation concluded at Chicago in 1944, to prescribe routes to be followed by civil aircraft over their territories; and what action he proposes to take in this matter.

I regret that my reply to the hon. Member on 7th May was likely to be misleading. So far, I have consulted Colonial Governments only in regard to the routes to be followed by scheduled international air services and not in regard to the action to be taken under Article 5 of the Chicago Convention. I am advised that it is desirable that where routes are prescribed they should fit into the air traffic control pattern to be established in the areas concerned. I am in communication with my noble Friend the Minister of Civil Aviation, with regard to the air traffic control pattern to be established in the Colonial areas concerned, and I propose to defer further communication with Colonial Governments on the subject until decisions are reached on the question of air traffic control.