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Sugar Ration

Volume 463: debated on Monday 28 March 1949

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12.

asked the Minister of Food whether since he is at present unable to de-ration sugar, he will consider increasing the existing ration of 10 oz. a week per person to 1 lb. per person a week, until sugar is de-rationed, in view of the increased supplies expected as a result of current negotiations with Cuba.

No, Sir. To increase the ration to 1 lb. per week would take a large amount of dollar sugar, the only extra sugar available today, and this we cannot afford to buy.

If not, why not? Is not the right hon. Lady aware of the constructive suggestion made by my hon. Friend the Member for Chippenham (Mr. Eccles) in the Adjournment Debate on sugar? Is it not a fact that in Cuba there is a huge unsaleable surplus which it would be possible to acquire for preserving fruit as well as for increasing the ration? If we cannot get the dollars, why not negotiate in sterling, if there is a will on the part if the Government to obtain that sugar? Are we not one of the worst-fed nations in Europe?

I think that the hon. Gentleman will agree with me that a week last Friday I went into great detail on this matter. I know that I can never satisfy the hon. Gentleman by my replies, but I endeavour to do so. The answer is that the amount of sugar for which he has asked in this Question comes to about an additional half a million tons, which would cost 56 million dollars, and we cannot afford it.

Why not offer to pay in sterling when there is a huge surplus which is unsaleable because there are no dollar buyers?