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Volume 463: debated on Monday 4 April 1949

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asked the Minister of Food whether he is aware that considerable quantities of Polish onions are being sold in this country at 6s. for a 50 lb. bag; how this price compares with the minimum price that British growers charge for onions; what representations he has received on this matter from British growers; and what remedial action he proposes.

My information is that Polish onions are fetching 12s. a cwt. for medium sizes and 16s. a cwt. for the larger sizes, ex quay. The most recent wholesale prices for English onions range from 4s. to 16s. a cwt. The total quantity of onions imported from Poland since the beginning of this season is less than 2,500 tons. I have received no representations from growers recently about these Polish imports. I am not proposing any remedial action since I am glad to say that both English and Polish onions are now selling to the housewife at from 2d. a lb. instead of 4½d. a lb. under control.

In view of the fact that the right hon. Gentleman has stated the total imports from Poland, may I ask whether it is a fact that in the coming year more onions are to be imported from Poland and other countries than the whole of the annual consumption of onions in the United Kingdom?

Is it still the right hon. Gentleman's policy to continue to buy food abroad at the cheapest possible price regardless of the effect on British agriculture?

No, Sir. Certainly pot regardless of the effect and equally not regardless of the price, to the housewife.