§ 9.0 p.m.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food (Dr. Edith Summerskill)
I beg to move,That the Potatoes (1945 Crop) (Charges) Order, 1945 (S.R. &., 1945, No. 1493), dated 27th November, 1945, made by the Treasury under Section 2 of the Emergency Powers (Defence) Act, 1939, a copy of which Order was presented on 3rd December, be approved.This subject is rather a dull one after the one the Committee has already been discussing. I do not think that potatoes can ever be exciting, but the Motion is one with which hon. Members are familiar. This Order is, in fact, similar to that approved by the House for the 1944 crop. It reimposes levies on certain potato sales which have applied during the last four years and is to ensure, as far as practicable, that all those interested in the sale of potatoes are dealt with equitably. It does, to some extent, redress the comparative trading advantages enjoyed by traders who do not use the normal wholesale channels. The Order imposes charges on sales of ware potatoes, that is, potatoes used for human consumption, with the exceptions set out in the Schedule, and the charges are at the following rates: On sales by licensed grower-salesmen, that is, growers licensed to sell direct to retailers and consumers, and on sales made through licensed auctioneers or under special licence; at is. per ton. On sales by licensed potato buyers—retailers licensed to buy direct from growers—at 2s. 6d. per ton.
Not more than one charge shall be paid when potatoes pass through the hands of two licensees who are liable to pay. It must be remembered that these levies do not increase the price to the consumer. They are direct impositions on the 1037 licensees who are allowed to by-pass the normal wholesale channels. They are deducted from the subsidy due and paid into the Ministry of Food Potato Division Account. They are only collected on sales of main-crop potatoes from 1st December when the subsidy starts. The National Potato Advisory Committee, which is representative of all sections of the industry, has given its approval to the continuance of the levies and, therefore, we can, with confidence, ask the House to approve the Order.