§ 94. Mr. CLYNES
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether the offer of 2,000 tons of Dutch butter made to the Ministry of Food last week at 330s. per cwt. c.i.f., is the same price as the Ministry are at present paying for Danish butter; whether he is aware that this 2,000 tons could have been distributed to the public without loss to the Exchequer by averaging the price with cheaper purchases of Colonial and Argentine butter in accordance with the Food Ministry's usual policy; and whether, in considering proposals of expenditure by the Food Ministry, butter is regarded as a luxury or an essential food?
The price asked for the Dutch butter was £330 a ton f.o.b. Sanction has been given for purchases of Danish butter at a price not exceeding 6 kroner per kilogramme c.i.f., but purchases have, in fact, been made at 5.50 kroner per kilogramme. The higher price would represent approximately £304 10s. a ton c.i.f., and the lower £279 2s. 6d. c.i.f. As the right hon. Member is no doubt aware, the Danish exchange is favourable to this country, whereas the Dutch exchange is seriously adverse. As regards the second part of the question, I understand that the butter and cheese operations of the Ministry of Food will result during the current financial year in a loss. As to the last part of the question, I should be sorry to have to decide in the case of any individual exactly what is or is not a necessity. It is, in part, a personal question dependent on the individual, in part a question of alternatives, and, in part, a question of degree.