HC Deb 06 March 1946 vol 420 cc331-3
52. Mr. Peter Freeman

asked the Minister of Food what is the present price of tomatoes in the Canary Islands and in this country; what allowance of profit is provided under the 1945 Maximum Prices Order for the exporter, importer, wholesaler, salesman and retailer; and whether he is satisfied with the method of handling this fruit.

Dr. Summerskill

So far as the information at my disposal goes it shows that the authorised selling price of tomatoes for export to the United Kingdom from the Canary Islands is 21 pesetas per 12 kilograms net. The maximum prices prescribed by the Imported Tomatoes (Maximum Prices) Order, 1945, on sales within the United Kingdom, other than sales by retail, vary according to the type of package used. For the type "B" package, containing an average of 27 1b. of tomatoes, these prices provide for a margin of 3s. 1d. on an import sale, 1s. 5d. on a first-hand sale, 2s. 3d. on a sale by wholesale, and 13s. 4d. on a sale by retail. I have no information about any allowance of profit available to the exporter. The reply to the last part of the Question is, "Yes, Sir."

Mr. Freeman

Does this method mean that very often fruit is being sold to other countries and that it results in high prices? Could better methods for handling this fruit be arranged?

Dr. Summerskill

This is a highly perishable commodity, and the hon. Gentleman will agree that we are not in a strong position today to bargain.

Mr. E. P. Smith

Will the hon. Lady explain what "B" type packages are?

Dr. Summerskill

The packages are classified according to the number of pounds of tomatoes. Package "B" contains 27 lb.

56. Mr. C. S. Taylor

asked the Minister of Food how many pounds of tomatoes have been landed in this country during the past two months and been re-shipped to Eire; and why this was done.

Dr. Summerskill

During December, 1945, and January, 1946, no tomatoes landed in this country were re-shipped to Eire. Figures for February are not yet available.

66. Mr. Murray

asked the Minister of Food how the 7,200 tons of tomatoes were disposed of during the last six months; if he will state the district allocations in each case; and whether such allocations were for the retail trade.

Dr. Summerskill

During the period of full control, i.e., up to the end of October, 1945, some 6,700 tons of the tomatoes imported from the Channel Islands to which my hon. Friend refers, were distributed to the public through the machinery of the tomato distribution scheme which makes use of the normal channels of trade. These supplies were sent in varying quantities to some 52 destinations in South Wales, the west Midlands and the south-west and north-west of England. After that period the small remaining supplies were directed to certain deficiency areas. The reply to the last part of the Question is, "Yes, Sir."

Mr. Murray

Is my hon. Friend aware that there is a feeling in the county of Durham that they are always last? Is she further aware that they only received some bananas last week, and now there is no sign of tomatoes?

Dr. Summerskill

I promise my hon. Friend that I shall bear Durham in mind next time we have some tomatoes.

Mr. McGovern

Would the hon. Lady arrange for samples to be placed in the Library?

Professor Savory

Will the hon. Lady see that Northern Ireland gets her fair share, in view of the immense supplies she is sending to this country—three-quarters of her eggs, to mention only one commodity?

Mr. Skeffington-Lodge

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that if he goes over the border he can buy unlimited supplies?