HC Deb 06 March 1946 vol 420 cc338-9
67. Mrs. Ayrton Gould

asked the Minister of Food if he is aware that illicit trading in oranges and lemons from barrows still continues in London and other parts of the country; and that, meanwhile, licensed retailers receive such small allocations that they are unable to supply a large number of their regular customers; and, as imported fruitis bought by the Government before it comes to Britain and is controlled by his Department at every stage, will he tighten up this control so that no imported fruit gets into the black market.

Dr. Summerskill

My right hon. Friend is aware that there is a certain amount of illicit trading in imported fruit and he is doing his best to put a stop to it For instance, during the last seven months of 1945 there were 143 prosecutions of street traders in the Westminster Food Control Committee Area. The police co-operate with my Department in initiating proceedings. My hon. Friend should however remember that most of the trading from barrows is perfectly legitimate and the amount of fruit dealt with by illicit traders is a very small part of the total.

Mrs. Ayrton Gould

While thanking my hon. Friend for her co-operation, may I ask if she is aware that these street hawkers seem to have access to an amazing amount of fruit compared with the amount that retailers in the ordinary way get in the way of allocations for their customers, and that it is causing grave dissatisfaction?

Dr. Summerskill

The amount of fruit these hawkers get is related to the amount they received during a certain period. Many of these men have been hawking for many years before the war, and one cannot regard them all as being suspects.