asked the Minister of Food whether he is aware of the grave difficulties being experienced by blackcurrant growers all over the country in disposing of their crops to the manufacturers owing to lack of sugar supplies for jam making; and whether he will take steps to increase the sugar supplies to the manufacturers and to improve the fruit content of home-produced black-currant jam.
I know that growers are worried about the marketing of blackcurrants this season, but I do not think that production of blackcurrant jam will be restricted by lack of sugar; if the public wants more of this kind of jam the manufacturers will supply it out of their current sugar allocations. I intend shortly to make an Order raising the minimum fruit content of blackcurrant jam from 20 per cent. to 22 per cent.
asked the Minister of Food if he will make a statement regarding future sugar supplies.
I can see no prospect of any improvement in the situation this year except at the cost of dollars. Indeed, as I have stated before, it is proving an extremely difficult task to maintain existing rations to housewives and manufacturers on present supplies from non-dollar sources. One can only speculate as to supplies beyond this year, but sterling supplies from the Commonwealth are steadily improving under the stimulus of our undertaking to buy all the sugar available up to 1952.
asked the Minister of Food why the British Government undertakes to buy 250,000 tons of sugar on the free market under United Nations agreements, whereas the United States of America reserves only 45,000 tons under the same obligations; and whether, in any new agreement, a greater amount will be purchased from the West Indies.
There are no such obligations in existence under United Nations agreements. I think my hon. Friend has in mind the recent agreement made this year, that in 1953 and for a further four years a small share of the United Kingdom market should be left outside the guaranteed purchase arrangements with Dominion and Colonial producers to help towards an International Sugar Agreement and to leave some free play in the market in the interests of the consumer. We are satisfied that the arrangements contemplated for the period after 1952 are fair and reasonable. Discussions are still going on with representatives of the West Indies about their share of this agreed scheme, and I cannot make any statement on this at present.
asked the Minister of Food if he will increase the amount of sugar allotted to jam manufacturers so that they will be able to use a larger proportion of the season's crop of blackcurrants for jam-making.
I would refer the hon. Member to my reply to the hon. and gallant Member for Ilford, South (Squadron-Leader Cooper) today.