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Tomato Order (Restrictions)

Volume 441: debated on Wednesday 6 August 1947

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asked the Minister of Food for what reasons it was decided to announce over the wireless that, owing to the large influx of Dutch tomatoes, licensed wholesalers selling in the London area were released from the obligations imposed by the Tomato Order, 1947; whether he is aware that this announcement has caused great inconvenience to the trade; and whether arrangements will be made under similar circumstances in future to deal with matters of this kind through the appropriate trade channels.

During the week which began on 20th July very heavy arrivals of Dutch tomatoes coincided with peak marketings of the home grown crop. By Friday, the 25th, the depots through which these tomatoes are distributed in the London area were overloaded and arrangements were therefore made to relax the restrictions imposed by the Tomato Order in order to avoid delay in distribution and consequent wastage. I think that far greater inconvenience would have been caused by failure to take prompt action.

Cannot the right hon. Gentleman appreciate the confusion that was also caused to the growers, and is he not aware that the growers in this country forsaw this glut coming, and why did his Department not foresee it and take earlier action than was done by the wireless broadcast?

It the hon. Gentleman feels that a supply of tomatoes which allows distribution under the controlled price is a glut, I cannot altogether agree with him—or that it is the kind of glut which we welcome very much in this Department.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that this made practically no difference at all to the growers, that the implications in the Question are grossly inaccurate, and that if the action had not been taken, it would have resulted in far greater inconvenience to traders and a huge loss of food?