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China Tea

Volume 440: debated on Thursday 17 July 1947

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asked the Minister of Food whether he will make stocks of all China tea held in this country interchangeable between the re-export and home trades.

I regret that in the existing circumstances I am unable to allow our stocks to be further depleted by the re-export of China tea which was brought into this country on an undertaking by the importers that it would be used entirely for home consumption. I am proposing, however, to review the question in a few months' time when it is hoped that increased arrivals of Indian and Ceylon teas will have substantially restored the stock position.

asked the Minister of Food whether he will consider removing the ceiling price of China tea.

The ceiling price of 4s. 10d. per 1b. for China tea was imposed to stop speculative buying with its consequential inflation of prices. It is felt that if it were removed at the present time, when supplies of China tea are still short, there would be a substantial rise in Shanghai prices and this type of tea would become a luxury available only to those who could afford to pay high prices. In these circumstances I am not prepared to agree to the removal of the ceiling price.

asked the Minister of Food whether he will consider freeing from control all China tea imported into this country.

So long as the shortage of tea makes it necessary to continue the control of retail prices and distribution, supplies for consumption in this country must be treated as a whole and it is not practicable to differentiate between the various growths. To lift control in the case of China tea in particular would in all probability give rise to speculation and inflated prices in China.