§ 49. Mr. Ammon
asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster whether his attention has been called to the breakdown of the Food Ministry supply depots for imported meat which has led to the establishment of unofficial sources of supply, and has resulted in the small retailer being squeezed out by the large multiple firms and consequent profiteering; whether he is aware that the London wholesale distributors admit their impotence in dealing with the situation; and what action does he intend to take to deal with the situation?
§ Mr. W. S. Morrison
I have received some complaints in regard to inequitable distribution arising out of the decentralisation of Smithfield and the reduced supplies available of imported meat, but I have not received from any quarter the suggestion that the present arrangements have broken down. All complaints brought to my notice have been investigated and I anticipate that the present difficulties will be largely removed with the introduction of full control early in the New Year.
§ Mr. Ammon
Has the right hon. Gentleman not seen for himself a statement from the Society of Meat Retailers to the effect that the whole thing has broken down; and is he aware that although 646 Smithfield Market is closed multiple firms have opened shops in Charterhouse Street and are competing with his own depôts in the supply of meat?
§ Mr. Morrison
I have never received any suggestion that the scheme has broken down. I have received complaints such as I have indicated. With regard to the complaint in the question about the preferential treatment of multiple stores, I have inquired into that, and I may say that I have received, if not an equal number, at least a certain number of complaints from multiple stores to the effect that smaller firms are getting more meat than the multiple stores.