HC Deb 04 February 1942 vol 377 cc1184-5
53. Mr. Woods

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food whether he is aware that it is impossible to prevent sales of eggs at black-market prices by poultry keepers with up to 50 hens; and whether he is now prepared to compel all producers with 24 hens, and over, to send their eggs to approved packing stations?

Major Lloyd George

While some producers with less than 50 laying hens may evade the price Orders to which they are subject, I have no evidence that such a practice is widespread. The answer to the last part of my hon. Friend's Question is in the negative.

Mrs. Hardie

Does the right hon. and gallant Gentleman realise the large number of producers kept off the market because of this provision that people with up to 50 hens should not be dealt with under the scheme, and would he reduce this number to bring in more producers under the scheme?

Major Lloyd George

There are very great difficulties in that into which I can- not enter by question and answer.

Mr. Charles Williams

Is the right hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that the original decision is absolutely right?

Mr. Thorne

Where the persons are known to the Ministry to be dealing in the black market, will action be taken?

Major Lloyd George

Anybody known by my Department to be in the black market is dealt with at once.

Mr. Woods

Will the right hon. and gallant Gentleman make inquiries as to the price which eggs of such producers are fetching, and will he consult with the Minister of Agriculture to ascertain the sources of supply? There is evidence that this black market in eggs is creating also a black market in provisions for feeding hens.

Major Lloyd George

As I said in my reply, I have no evidence of such sales being widespread. If the hon. Member has information I should be grateful if he would pass it on to me.