asked the Minister of Food whether he is aware that Dutch tomatoes have recently been sold by the London Tomatoes Distribution Association at 131s. 6d. per cwt., instead of 121s. 4d. as laid down in the Tomatoes Order; and whether this variation was with the permission of his Department.
Yes, Sir. As the London Tomato Distributing Association carries out in the London area the functions which the secondary wholesaler performs in the provinces we have authorised the Association to sell at the secondary wholesale price of 131s. 6d. per cwt. applicable in other areas.
Is this strictly in accordance with the terms of the Order? In any case, do not such variations cause considerable dislocation in distribution? Are they wise?
The hon. Gentleman, I think, is a little confused. The figure in the Order, of course, which he will agree is the same for the primary wholesaler, is there in order to deter secondary wholesalers from infringing Article 19.
Will the hon. Lady use that as little as possible? Does she not agree that these sudden variations throw the whole scheme badly out of balance, involving severe losses in some elements of it and corresponding excessive profits in others?
asked the Minister of Food whether imported autumn and winter tomatoes from North Africa and the Canaries are to be freed from control; and whether he will now adopt this policy in reference to Dutch tomatoes.
Yes, Sir. An announcement was made on 17th July that the price and distribution of winter tomatoes imported from the Canary Islands and North Africa during the 1947/8 season will not be controlled, provided that selling prices remain at reasonable levels. The season for Dutch tomatoes coincides with our home crop and different considerations apply. The open general licence under which Dutch tomatoes are now being imported expires on 31st July, after which it is expected that the home grown supply will be sufficient to meet the demand.
Is my hon. Friend aware that the decision made already is generally considered most sensible? I hope the same thing will be done in regard to Dutch tomatoes.
Is my hon. Friend satisfied that the quantities of Dutch tomatoes which, even now, are being received, are so large that the present distribution scheme is liable to break down immediately, and would it not be possible, in order to avoid this, and to give the consumers the benefit of these large supplies, to consider removing the present price control?
The hon. Gentleman knows that the open general licence expires in a week and we shall certainly then look at the matter again.