HC Deb 30 July 1941 vol 373 cc1402-3
64. Mr. Tinker

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food whether he is aware that the statement fixing the price for salad onions to the grower of £1 12s. 8d. per cwt., the wholesale price at £ 2 6s. 8d. per cwt. and the retail price at 7½ d. per pound is causing concern because of the high rate charged after they leave the grower; and whether he will make a statement to show the cause of this increase?

Major Lloyd George

The maximum grower's price of 32s. 8d. per cwt. for green onions is fixed on the basis of delivery at the farm or nearest railway station, and is exclusive of the cost of providing containers. The difference between the maximum growers' price and the maximum retail price is 37s. 4d. per cwt. When deductions are made for carriage, containers and delivery charges, and allowance has been made for waste and loss of weight by evaporation between leaving the farm and sale to the consumer, which has to be borne by the traders through whose hands the produce passes, the difference is not excessive. Maximum prices have to allow for maximum trans- portation and the cost of distributing produce of this kind in small lots is quite out of proportion to the initial farm price.

Mr. Tinker

Is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that when prices have soared 114 per cent. higher than they were, the feelings of the public are that they are being fleeced? Ought not a great deal of attention to be given to this matter before allowing such a great increase in price?

Major Lloyd George

I can assure the hon. Gentleman that very careful attention indeed was given to this particular commodity. I have all the analysed figures here, and I should be glad to show them to him. The profits of the retailer are not excessive.

Mr. Gordon Macdonald

Does not the Parliamentary Secretary think that sometimes between the grower and the ultimate retailer there are far too many factors?

Major Lloyd George

In this particular instance the figures given concern only the grower, wholesaler and retailer.

Mr. Evelyn Walkden

Where this margin is allowed, is it not inclined to persuade retailers to by-pass the market and therefore to raise another new black market of a commodity which at the moment is in short supply? Will it not induce them to make big margins of profit by the percentages reported?

Major Lloyd George

I. rather gathered that this complaint was that the margin of the retailer was too high. Having regard to the highly perishable nature of the commodity in this case, I do not think the gross profit of the retailer is excessive.

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