§ 48. Mr. Douglas
asked the Minister of Food whether he is aware of the small volume of strawberries reaching the consumer through retailers; to what extent it is estimated that this is due to preemption by expensive restaurants and black market purchases; and what steps he is taking in the matter.
§ Mr. Mabane
Yes, Sir. Few strawberries are available because the main crop is not yet ready, and, in any case, 1978 as the supply will be smaller than usual this year as a result of the frosts, retailers cannot expect large supplies. I have no evidence of illegal purchases of the kind suggested by the hon. Member.
§ Mr. Douglas
Is the Minister aware that in the Borough market yesterday morning all the strawberries were labelled "Sold"?
§ Mr. Evelyn Walkden
Why was it found necessary to give freedom to the Kent growers to become the agents of the profiteers of the West End restaurants, so that they themselves could pre-empt the strawberries instead of the Ministry of Food?
§ Mr. Mabane
I am not quite sure to what my hon. Friend refers, but he is, no doubt, aware that the smaller growers in Kent and other parts of the country have a retailing licence and therefore can sell as retailers to whom they please.