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Volume 464: debated on Monday 9 May 1949

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asked the Minister of Food whether he is aware of the fact that sardines are not available in the shops; and what steps he is taking to remedy this situation.

The present shortage is due to failure in the Portuguese fishing last year. I am again negotiating for large quantities of sardines this season. and if fishing is satisfactory good supplies should be available here towards the end of the year. In the meantime we are making regular allocations of brisling and sild.

Has my right hon. Friend tried to get supplies from France as well as from Portugal?

We hope to get very substantial supplies from French North Africa this year.

Is it not a fact that in 1947 private merchants in this country were able to buy sardines in Portugal without interference, with the result that we had a full supply a year ago; but that the Ministry of Food decided last summer to go in for bulk buying, so that the private merchants were no longer allowed to buy directly from Portugal, with the result that now we have no sardines in the shops?

Is there any truth in reports that sardines in considerable quantities have recently been seen approaching the shores of this country? Are any steps to be taken to catch them when they arrive?

I suggest that the hon. Member's fishing constituents should take part in that operation.