§ 93. Mr. LOUGH
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food whether the policy of the Government with regard to tea is that foreign qualities should be excluded and the importation of Indian tea reduced, and, in order to secure that there should be no speculative buying, prices were not to be raised above those of the week in which the statement was made, the wholesale cost price then being about 1s. 3d. per pound with duty 2s. 3d.; whether his attention has been drawn to statements made by the Food Controller to deputations of the tea trade that a proportion of tea must be sold at 2s. retail and that he will guarantee supplies, that he has full powers and can ship what teas are necessary to this country, and can enforce his requirements upon all sections of the industry, and that if the trade is not able to do this he will do without it, as in the sugar trade, and that as a result of this statement the tea auctions in London have been suspended and losses caused; whether he is aware that the arrivals of tea and stocks in this country even before this statement were greatly reduced, and that notwithstanding good tea is still being retailed at 2s. 4d. and 2s. 6d. per pound, including 1s. per pound duty, there is no evidence of speculative buying; and whether he can do anything to reconcile the conflict in these statements, each made on behalf of the Government, and so make it practicable for this distributive business to be carried on?
I would refer the right hon. Gentleman to the answer given yesterday to the hon. Member for Peck-ham. I may add that several of the statements imputed in the question to the Food Controller are without warrant.
I have every reason to believe that the Food Controller is carrying on these negotiations with the utmost celerity.