HC Deb 23 July 1941 vol 373 cc886-90
52. Mr. Leslie Boyce

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food whether, in view of the losses incurred by distributors in having to accept eggs with all faults in accordance with the Ministry's terms, and to the fact that recently a large percentage of the eggs so accepted have been bad, in some instances the losses being as high as 30 per cent., he will arrange for consideration to be given to claims in those cases where eggs are proved to be out of condition, and where excessive breakages occur?

Major Lloyd George

An allowance to cover breakages and other faults is given to distributors when allocations are made. A greater allowance is made where tests indicate that it is necessary. Instructions have been issued that no boxes of eggs showing signs of breakage are to be allocated to distributors.

Mr. Boyce

Is it not a fact that in the weeks prior to 30th June, when the present scheme came into operation, a large quantity of Australian eggs was issued to the trade, of which a high percentage was out of condition, and that the Ministry's officials at Colwyn Bay —

Mr. Speaker

I think the hon. Member had better put that question down.

Mr. Boyce

May I have an answer to the first part of my supplementary Question? May I put it briefly in this way? Is it not a fact that the Ministry's officials have instructed their port egg agents that they must not allow more than 1 per cent, for claims in regard to eggs imported prior to 30th June, and will a proper allowance be made for that period?

Major Lloyd George

One per cent, is the usual allowance, but in this particular instance retailers would claim against the wholesalers and the wholesalers would get in touch with the Ministry. Of course, in the peculiar circumstances which existed recently, we should meet them.

Mr. R. J. Taylor

Is the right hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that shopkeepers are greatly perturbed about this, because the percentage of bad eggs is much higher than I per cent, and people are bringing them back and asking for their money back?

Major Lloyd George

I regret to say that what my hon. Friend says is true with regard to the percentage. It has been much higher than I per cent, in some cases. I may inform my hon. Friend that the eggs to which reference has been made came from a country which hitherto has not been an exporter of eggs. The circumstances were peculiar and quite abnormal, and, as I have informed my hon. Friend, full allowance will be made for the loss.

Mr. Taylor

Will the right hon. and gallant Gentleman say whether the allegation is true or not that imported eggs were held nine weeks before being distributed?

Major Lloyd George

That is entirely without foundation.

60. Mr. Boyce

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food whether he will take steps to inform the public that the fact of a customer being registered with a retailer for eggs does not necessarily guarantee that supplies of eggs will be available for that customer; and that the responsibility for making supplies available rests with the Ministry of Food and not with the retailer?

Major Lloyd George

Registration is intended to secure an equitable distribution to retailers of such supplies of eggs as are available, but the public have been informed that no definite supplies are guaranteed. It rests with each retailer to apportion such supplies as are allotted to him fairly among his customers and he is under an obligation to do so.

Mr. Charles Williams

Does the necessity to economise in transport apply to eggs, or should all eggs be well travelled in these days?

Major Lloyd George

We economise as much as possible with eggs and other products.

Mr. Williams

Why should the distribution stations be where they are, and why should not the local producer immediately distribute the eggs?

Major Lloyd George

I do not know whether my hon. Friend would say that if he lived in one of the cities of England. The object of the egg scheme is to get equitable distribution. If the principle suggested by my hon. Friend applied to other commodities, there would be a good many complaints from people outside.

61. Mr. Lipson

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food whether, to save transport and labour and to reduce the possibility of damage in transit, he will allow egg-producing localities to retain, in the first instance, the ration of eggs to which they are entitled and the surplus only to be sent to packing stations?

66. Colonel Burton

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food whether he will take steps to ensure that localities in which eggs are produced shall be entitled to purchase locally-laid eggs, and that their needs shall be satisfied before they are compelled to purchase imported eggs?

69. Mr. Wilfrid Roberts

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food whether he has given instructions that home-produced eggs should be supplied to customers in areas in which they are produced, and that imported eggs should remain in the neighbourhood of ports, in order to avoid unnecessary transport and delay in distribution?

Major Lloyd George

I cannot accept the suggestion that consumers in producing areas are entitled to a first priority in home-produced eggs. The object of the egg control scheme is to distribute eggs as evenly as possible throughout the country. Transport of eggs will, however, he reduced as much as possible and for this reason the needs of egg-producing areas will normally be met from supplies arising in those areas, although at certain times of the year it may be necessary to supplement the supply of home-produced eggs in producing areas.

Mr. Lipson

Does my right hon. and gallant Friend agree that the present system is wasteful both of eggs and of transport, and that there is a good deal of dissatisfaction in egg-producing localities because eggs are taken away from those localities, and people are given in exchange bad Irish eggs?

Major Lloyd George

There is a great deal of exaggeration about this matter. There have been no bad Irish eggs on a large scale. The bad eggs came from very much further away. The distribution scheme is really a perfectly simple one. There are over 600 collection stations in England, and the whole collection and distribution has worked on the whole very satisfactorily, much better than we thought it would at the beginning. That is in regard to home-produced eggs, which is what these Questions apply to.

Captain Strickland

How many of these collecting stations have been unable to absorb local eggs, which have been sent back or allowed to go bad?

Major Lloyd George

The reason for that, in every case, has been that they themselves had taken on more than they could manage, with the result that they had had delivered to them, in accordance with their own wishes, far more eggs than they could handle.

Mr. Mathers

Is the Minister aware of charges that eggs are allowed to go bad at the farms because they are not collected? Upon whom does the responsibility rest for seeing the eggs delivered to the packing stations or collected by the packing stations?

Major Lloyd George

What my hon. Friend has said confirms my point that there is a good deal of exaggeration about this. The hon. and gallant Member for Coventry (Captain Strickland) stated that eggs were going bad because they were at the collecting stations in far too large numbers. My hon. Friend has just stated that they are going bad because they are at the farms. They cannot be at both.

72. Sir Leonard Lyle

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food to what extent eggs are still being imported from the Americas?

Major Lloyd George

Eggs are being shipped, but I do not think that it is in the public interest to give exact figures.

Sir L. Lyle

Does the right hon. and gallant Gentleman confirm the statement that the cost of the importation of these eggs is about five times the cost of the necessary feeding-stuffs to provide the same quantity of eggs produced in this country?

Major Lloyd George

That is not so, but I have not facts or figures with me here to deal with that point.

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