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Fruit And Vegetables

Volume 931: debated on Tuesday 10 May 1977

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asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection if he will institute an inquiry into the widespread practice in the wholesale fruit and vegetable trade of giving short weight and measure, with power to make recommendations as to the adequacy of current weights and measures legislation to combat the problem which results in retailers having to charge more than they need for their goods.

I am not aware of any evidence that the practice is widespread as my hon. Friend implies. Many fresh fruits and vegetables are subject to heavy and unpredictable losses of weight in transit and storage. Consequently it has been long-established practice in the trade that certain transactions between the wholesaler and retailer take place on the basis of an assumed weight or measure, or the weight when packed. Legislation already provides that where, by agreement between the two parties, the transaction is by weight, the retailer has the right to demand check-weighing of the produce concerned. In general, I believe that these matters are better regulated by trade practices agreed between the producer, the wholesaler and retailer than by precise legislation, and I do not consider that an inquiry is justified at the present time.