§ 54 and 55. Lieut.-Commander Joynson-Hicks
asked the Minister of Food (1) whether he is aware that, on 9th and 10th October the prices per 12-lb. box of sound tomatoes received by growers from the T.P.D.A. was 3d. per box, and on 25th October was 2d. per box; and what steps he is taking to ensure a reasonable price to the growers of home-grown tomatoes for next season;
(2) why, on 1st October, prices for 12-lb. boxes of tomatoes paid to growers by the T.P.D.A. were 1s. 9d. for best, but 2s. 8d. for others; and what steps he is taking to ensure that a similar penalty is not imposed upon quality for next season's crop.
§ Dr. Summerskill
I am aware that in certain instances, largely owing to unfavourable weather, prices as low as those mentioned by the hon. and gallant Member were paid. Such information as I have been able to obtain shows, however, that average prices paid by the T.P.D.A. to growers on the dates mentioned, even for second grade tomatoes, were substantially higher than those quoted. As soon as the information necessary to identify the individual transactions has been obtained, I will look into them further and will write to the hon. and gallant Member.
§ Lieut. - Commander Joynson - Hicks
While appreciating the latter part of the hon. Lady's reply, may I ask if she will not agree that the prices referred to, if substantiated, are really impossible for any 335 producer; and will she take steps to try to ensure that such things do not occur next year?
§ Dr. Summerskill
I would inform the hon. and gallant Member that the maximum prices in that area on those days were 7s. for 12 lb. chips, and two days later they were raised to 10s. The hon. Member will recall that the weather was very unfavourable, and some of those tomatoes were almost unsaleable.