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Algerian Wine

Volume 463: debated on Monday 21 March 1949

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asked the Minister of Food how much Algerian wine is at present in the vaults at London docks; how long it has been there, and what storage fees have been paid in respect of it


asked the Minister of Food of how many gallons of Algerian wine does his Department stand possessed; and what price per gallon he gave for it.

It would not be in the public interest to disclose the stocks held by my Department. The wine arrived in this country at various times between February and May last year. Storage fees are approximately 3d. per gallon per annum.

When will the Minister stop this folly of bulk purchase? Is it not a fact that he has got about £1 million worth of this wine in stock? If he wants further particulars will he look at the "Sunday Express" for 13th March? Will he also be good enough to read a pamphlet just published by Lord Teviot "Why I should not be a Socialist"? It might get through his thick head.

Can the Minister give any reason why, in this case, publication would not be in the public interest?

There is no reason whatever to make an exception in this case from the general principle, for which I have given the reason in a number of cases.

Has not the reason given generally been that publication might prejudice further purchases? Does that mean that the right hon. Gentleman is going further into the Algerian wine market?

I should have no hesitation in doing so if it proved advisable that we should make further purchases of Algerian wine. Why not?

Has not the Minister of Food informed the wine interests in this country that unless this Algerian wine is definitely sold, he will cut down future imports of ordinary wine into this country?

Surely the right hon. Gentleman is hiding behind an excuse which has no validity. Is he really saying to the House that he proposes continuing in the Algerian wine market? Is he not laying himself open to the suspicion of refusing to admit that he has made a mess of it?

There is not the slightest reason to suppose that these transactions have any element of mistake in them.