HC Deb 01 December 1919 vol 122 cc39-40
75. Mr. RAPER

asked tie Food Controller whether he is aware that the Ministry offered for tender 3,000 tons of dates with all faults; whether this offer coincided with an Order issued by the Ministry to the effect that they would not pay for any more of their dates in private hands which might in future be condemned by sanitary inspectors; if these dates are of extremely doubtful quality and not suitable for general consumption; whether the Ministry have disposed of a large quantity of these inferior dates at a price in the neighbourhood of 20s. per cwt.; if the Ministry have taken adequate steps to secure these goods being sold to the public at a similar proportionate reduction from the retail figure of 6d. per lb. as that allowed from the wholesale price of 42s. per cwt.; and whether steps have been taken to recover the loss on all these bad dates from the merchants who have sold them to the Ministry, in view of the fact that the loss may amount to £100,000 and will have to be borne by the Ministry owing to the conditions of the contracts?


The answer to the first two parts of the question is in the affirmative. The Order of the Ministry, however, concerned certain dates distributed during May and June of this year, and had no connection with the 3,000 tons to which the hon. Member refers. As regards the third and fourth parts of the question, a certain proportion of the 3,000 tons is unsuitable for general consumption; and sales have been made at prices in the neighbourhood of 20s. per cwt. In view of the conditions under which these dates were sold, and the fact that a proportion of them will probably prove to be unsaleable by buyers, or only fit for manufacturing purposes, it was not considered practicable or desirable to reduce the maximum retail price, although I am informed that some of the dates have been retailed at 4d. per pound. Steps will be taken by the Department to recover from the merchants from whom purchases were made last year the portion of the loss for which they are responsible; and negotiations on the matter are now proceeding.

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