HC Deb 16 October 1940 vol 365 cc704-5
59. Mr. Graham White

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food what action he proposes to take to control the price and distribution of onions?

58. Mr. Buchanan

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food whether he is aware that the retail price of onions has risen from 6d. to 1s. per pound in certain areas; and whether he will take steps to prevent profiteering in the sale of an essential foodstuff of which there is an adequate supply?

Mr. Boothby

I am aware that excessive prices have been charged for onions, but I cannot agree that there is an adequate supply or that an adequate supply can be made available in the near future. It is impossible, in these circumstances, to impose a fully effective control over distribution, but a Price Control Order will be issued at an early date, and in the case of imported onions the Ministry, as sole importer, will arrange for the imports to be distributed for first sales to the ports which are the normal centres of first sales and distribution.

Mr. White

May I ask my hon. Friend whether he is in consultation with the Minister of Agriculture so that steps may be taken if necessary to increase supplies in this country?

Mr. Boothby

Yes, Sir. We are continually in touch.

Mr. Thorne

Will the Ministry fix the price at once before it jumps again?

Mr. Boothby

We hope to do so in the near future.

Mr. Charles Brown

What about seeds-men who are asking for onion seed at the present time for next year's sowing?

Mr. McGovern

Will the Ministry consider fixing the prices of nearly all the foodstuffs in the country? Bananas, for instance, are 3s. a dozen, which is disgraceful.