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Ministry Of Materials (Trading Loss)

Volume 531: debated on Monday 26 July 1954

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asked the Minister of State, Board of Trade, as representing the Minister of Materials, what loss has been incurred by the trading operations of the Ministry of Materials, from the date of its inauguration during 1951, to the latest convenient date.

The trading loss up to 31st March last was approximately £55 million.

Can my right hon. Friend say whether this is the end of the story of these dismal and improvident losses or are there further terminal losses yet to be incurred? May I also ask him to give the House an assurance that there will be no further adventures of this kind in State trading in commodities?

As far as the first part of the supplementary question is concerned, this provides for the situation until 31st March last. There may well be some further loss resulting from the terminal clearing up. As regards the second part of the question, I think we should let the future unfold.

Does not the right hon. Gentleman think that it is improper for the hon. Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro) to make this attack upon State trading without asking questions which would reveal that State trading makes a profit? For instance, is it not true that the Ministry of Food is making a quarter of a million pounds a week profit from selling Danish bacon?

I do not think I will say anything which would result in my hon. Friend asking still more questions.