HC Deb 15 July 1942 vol 381 cc1230-1
50. Sir W. Smithers

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food the approximate tonnage of potatoes left over from last year's crop which have not been used; what price the Government pay for them; and what is the approximate loss to the taxpayer?

Mr. Mabane

As old potatoes are still finding a steady market for human consumption, it is not yet possible to answer the first and third parts of the Question. With regard to the second part of the Question, the price payable for potatoes delivered under contract in July is the appropriate fixed grower's price for May, which varies with district and variety, plus 20s. per ton.

Sir W. Smithers

Has not the hon. Gentleman heard from Norfolk and Lincolnshire of thousands of tons of potatoes that are being wasted? In view of the fact that a member of the public can be prosecuted for wasting a piece of paper or bread, why are not the officials responsible for this maladministration prosecuted, or shot?

Mr. Mabane

I have not had the particular complaint to which my hon. Friend refers. I think it will be recognised that it is the duty of the Ministry of Food to secure an adequate supply of potatoes—old potatoes—to make good the gap before the new potatoes come on the market.

Lieutenant Butcher

Will the Minister convey to the officials concerned our appreciation of their very great skill in dealing with this potato question, and ask them to speed up payments as well?

Sir Stanley Reed

Will the public who refuse to eat these potatoes also be shot?