HC Deb 22 May 1946 vol 423 cc476-94

11.45 p.m.

Colonel Crosthwaite-Eyre (New Forest and Christchurch)

I beg to move, That the Cucumbers Order, 1946 (S.R. & O., 1946, No. 613), dated 25th April, 1946, a copy of which was presented on 30th April, he annulled. When dealing with these Orders relative to the distribution of food in this country, hon. Members on this side of the House have regard to two points. The first is whether the Order permits of adequate stocks being maintained in this country; and the second is whether the Order permits of adequate distribution being made so that every section of the community shall have a fair chance of purchasing its proper share.

Sir Wavell Wakefield (St. Marylebone)

On a point of Order. Is anyone going to reply from the Government benches who is capable of replying to this Motion?

Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Mr. Hubert Beaumont)

I think the hon. Member had better wait a little longer.

The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Ede)

Even at this late hour.

Colonel Crosthwaite-Eyre

As far as the question of adequate stocks is concerned, we on this side of the House feel that despite all the efforts of the present Government, we still have adequate stocks, and that, thanks to the foresight of the predecessors of the present Government, they are not at present in the position of having to be censured from this side of the House. On the question of adequate distribution, the Government have already shown themselves incapable of accepting what I might call the elementary facts. In this Order they have gone still further in their sin, and have produced something which cannot hope to produce adequate distribution and ensure that every member of the community will receive his proper share of the goods to be rationed under this Order. We have had previous Debates which were similar to this. On all occasions the Ministry of Food have said that their chief concern is to be considered as a Ministry for the consumer. If that means anything, it must mean that they are prepared to guarantee that every member of the British public, irrespective of locality or purchasing power, shall have an equal chance to get whatever commodity is being rationed. Yet under this Order we have a system whereby that principle must be defeated from the very start. From the principles laid out in the Schedule, in what is called Part 7, Table "A," It must ensue that no one, unless he is in the immediate vicinity of wherever cucumbers happen to be grown, will be able to get any cucumbers at all. Column five lays down what may be added to the wholesale prices on allocation to retail, and it is ridiculous to say that that price has sufficient regard to the possible contingencies which may arise.

This Order applies to home grown cucumbers. Home grown cucumbers cover such vastly different areas as the Channel Islands and Hampshire. I believe the Home Secretary is to answer this Debate. He is asking this House to believe that it is possible to produce and market cucumbers from the Channel Islands and from Hampshire at exactly the same prices. He is asking us to believe that cucumbers grow for the most part in the Southern districts of this country, and can be transported to the Northern parts at the same price as that at which they can be sold in London and the South. That is quite fantastic because of differentiations in price—owing to mileage owing to transport costs. Let us assume for a moment the Ministry of Food's statement that they are a Ministry for the consumer, that they are, in fact, a Ministry for the producer. Producers for the most part are concentrated in relatively small areas around London, the South-West, and parts of the Midlands, and they are asked to accept the fact that they will receive a standard price for their commodities. That price is assured, and there can be on alteration. The wholesaler is faced with a glut of the commodity so that he cannot take it. The producer has a certain amount to sell, arid he can sell it to the wholesaler at a reduced price, at a loss to himself, or he can let it go to waste.

On all sides of the House we must agree that no sooner does the Ministry of Food produce an Order relative to any foodstuff, than that foodstuff disappears from the shops. The Minister in his folly or wisdom—call it what you wish—produces a statement laying down standard or fixed prices, which renders it impossible for the producer to produce, or the consumer to consume. We on this side of the House have the greatest desire to see that in these difficult times of shortage, foodstuffs, particularly fresh vegetables, are produced and sold so as to ensure the widest distribution. We ask the Ministry of Food to ensure that this is done. An Order such as this dealing with a vegetable which, while not essential, could produce a great many benefits to the ordinary housewife, should be such as to encourage the producer to produce to the maximum. We also urge that the wholesaler should be encouraged to accept that produce. At the moment, however, the producer is penalised, the wholesaler is penalised, and the consumer gets nothing at all.

11.53 p.m.

Mr. Spence (Aberdeen and Kincardine, Central)

Mr. Deputy-Speaker, before I second this Order, may I ask for your guidance? I have to put a number of technical points to the Ministry of Food, and I should like to have guidance on the point as to whom I am to address.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd (Mid-Bedford)

On a point of Order. May I ask if there is anybody qualified to answer the technical points which have been and will be raised?

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

The remarks should he addressed to the Chair. I understand the points will be answered.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

In view of the great many questions which have been asked, may I request you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, to consider a Motion for the Adjournment of the House as there is no Minister present to answer them?

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

I cannot accept that at the moment. I understand that steps have been taken to secure the attendance of the Minister.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

How much latitude are we to give the Government?

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

The Chair cannot give any such indication. The Debate should proceed.

11.55 p.m.

Mr. Spence

I beg to second the Motion.

I do so on the same grounds of complaint which I have made in recent Prayers for the annulment of similar Orders, all of which have been unsucessful. The substance of my complaint is that there is insufficient allowances to meet the carriage of cucumbers from the grower to the consumer. That is the main burden of my objection, and I should like to voice it in relation to the particular background of the constituency which I represent, which is in the North of Scotland. I want to show what happens when we try at this time of the year in a place like Aberdeen to get a cucumber. The first hand wholesale price in London is 60s. and the carriage from the grower—at the present time cucumbers mainly come from the South and the Channel Islands—is 3s. 6d. There are then the buyers' charges, London porterage, and, finally, a passenger train freight from London to Aberdeen, since goods trains are too slow. There is thus a net loss of somewhere over 12s. per cwt. on the prices that are permitted at the present time. The result is that we do not see cucumbers except at the time of the year when they can be grown locally. Does the Minister desire to limit the supply to the one month when we can grow them locally without using heat?

I would like to refer to a point raised by my hon. and gallant Friend who moved the annulment, namely, the effect on the grower. With this low carriage allowance distribution is restricted and you get local gluts. When the carriage allowance is not sufficient to move them to available markets, the price is depressed to the grower until he has to accept a price sufficiently below the normal selling price which will subsidise the cost of carriage. As my right hon. Friend will know, that has taken place recently, in connection with spring cabbage. That does not help the grower, and these Orders should be fair to the grower, the distributor, and the consumer. If it is a good Order it should work that way. As the Minister himself is here—and I say this without any disrespect to the Parliamentary Secretary who has answered us on every occasion hitherto—I do wish to put it to him that these Orders are coming out again and again with the same objection in them, and with the same bone of contention, which causes these Prayers for annulment. I suggest that it is due to bad advice from the Department concerned. The Minister must take his advice, naturally, from the Department that looks after the distribution of each particular variety of food all over the country. Naturally he cannot look into the small details of every Order about this or that commodity, but I do suggest, with all sincerity, that the advice he has been receiving on this matter has not been good advice.

I hope that the Minister will look into the whole question himself, and that he will pay heed to the communications that have been sent from his divisional food officers in the North, which I know bear out the burden of the many Prayers on which I have spoken in the House in this connection. I hope also that the right hon. Gentleman will pay heed to the recommendations of the distribution committees on which the Ministry of Food have to rely for advice on the interests of the consumers. In the course of previous replies on the main question of levelling prices all over the country, the Parliamentary Secretary has said again and again that it is the policy of the Ministry of Food to meet the consumers' needs. She has said that the Ministry want to level the price all over the country. That is the answer we have had every time, but I have been looking up some of the Orders that have been going through, and I want to draw the Minister's attention to—

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

The hon. Member may not refer to Debates on other Orders. We are now dealing with a specific Order, and he must confine his remarks to that Order.

Mr. Spence

This Order has only one price for the whole country, whereas in similar Orders referring to tomatoes and plums there were different prices. In the case of tomatoes, there were three prices, and in the case of plums four prices, and in some cases five prices. I suggest that there should not be any discrimination between one and another ingredient of a salad. What is sauce for the tomato should be mayonnaise for the cucumber. The same consideration should he given to cucumbers as is given to the other vegetables I have mentioned.

Wing-Commander Millington (Chelmsford)

May I ask the hon. Member whether, in his part of the country, they have plums together with cucumbers?

Mr. Spence

I may have spoken rather fast, but I do not put plums in my salad. They were an illustration.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

The hon. Member must bear in mind that the Order deals with cucumbers.

Mr. Spence

I now beg to direct the Minister's attention to one particular part of the price schedule; that is the part which deals with the question of the agent's charge. It will be found, in column 2, that the agent's commission is assured at 4s. per hundredweight, and the wholesaler gets only 3s. 6d. a hundredweight profit and only 3s. 6d. a hundred weight allowance. I suggest very strongly that this indicates who has the ear of the Department concerned. I suggest that because it is clear in the Order. I want to refer to one other matter, and that is that in previous Debates, the Parliamentary Secretary—

Mr. Collins (Taunton)

I am sure the hon. Member would not want to mislead the House. He must know that the wholesaler is entitled to receive the whole margin of 7s. 6d. and that it is very rarely that the agent's commission is paid at all.

Mr. Spence

The official price to the grower is 56s., the amount of the commission is 4s., making 60s., and the wholesale price is 63s. 6d., leaving a margin to the wholesaler of 3s. 6d., with a carriage recovery of 3s. 6d., where such carriage is 3s. 6d. The actual carriage cost can be covered up to that amount, but not beyond it. I therefore maintain that my statement that the profit to the wholesaler is 3s. 6d. a hundredweight is correct.

I come now to the question of the remarks that have been made in Debates on previous Prayers, regarding the source of the information which I have in this matter. In the Debate last week, the Parliamentary Secretary referred to the fact that I got my information from the trade. I wish to tell the House that I have gone into this matter on account of the weight of opinion in my constituency, and naturally, when I wanted information, I went to the trade. They were the people who knew what was happening. I suggest that to cast doubt and suspicion upon the source of my information indicates that the defence must be very weak.

Finally, in asking the Minister to look into this matter himself, I want to mention, that the chief of the department for soft fruits, who is adviser on these matters recently made a speech at a trade dinner in which he criticised the fact that these Prayers were being put down in the House to raise the question of carriage, and he suggested that they would not he a fruitful way for the trade to get the question considered. I suggest that when a civil servant indicates to the trade, who happen to come under his orbit of command, that they should not go to Parliament to get these matters put right, when the only way of altering an S.R. and O. is by a Prayer against it, it shows that we have come right under the heel of bureaucracy, and that matters have gone much further than they would have gone if the Minister had been watching this matter. I hope the Minister will give an assurance that he will look into the matter himself and investigate it from the point of view of the people in the North and in the more outlying districts, who do suffer real hardship, despite all that has been said to the contrary.

12.8 a.m.

The Minister of Food (Sir Benjamin Smith)

These Prayers appear to be a weekly event now. [An HON. MEMBER: "Nightly."] They have been weekly so far. One does not object to any Member of Parliament taking full advantage of the Rules of the House that permit discussions of this character. Why are we asked to annul this Order? First, because, Scotland is not likely to get anything, according to the statements made, and second, because the transport costs are not sufficient to ensure Scotland getting anything. What are the facts?

Colonel Crosthwaite-Eyre

Will the Minister address himself to one or two of the arguments that I advanced?

Sir B. Smith

Before the war, the amount of cucumbers grown under glass was approximately 21,000 tons, and there was an unknown quantity of ridge cucumbers grown in the open. I have not the figures for them. During the war, deliberately and as a policy, under a cropping Order, cucumbers were not grown under glass. They were eliminated in favour of what was believed to be—and I believed it to be true—the much more nutritious commodity, tomatoes. That cropping Order was rescinded last autumn. This year we expect to get under glass 4,000 tons, and about 6,000 tons of ridge cucumbers. On top of this, we hope to import from Holland about 5,000 tons, so that the total will be approximately 15,000 tons. It will average something like a quarter of a pound per family for the whole country.

Therefore, it is impossible for me to plan a nation wide distribution of such a limited quantity of cucumbers. In the main the cucumber like many eggs, will be consumed in the districts where they are grown and districts adjacent thereto. I have tried to meet the position as fairly as I could. I have fixed the price to the grower or importer. I have fixed a maximum price with the wholesaler and retailer, plus allowances from farm or quayside to the wholesaler's premises and, finally, a maximum retail price to the public. I have not attempted to secure a nation wide distribution to all parts of the United Kingdom by a variation in the allowances for transport costs. Had I done so there would as a consequence have been differing retail prices in every district in the country and there would be different voices heard in resentment of this. I thought it wise to put a charge of 3s. 6d. covering the whole country.

How is Scotland going to be injured by that? There are imported cucumbers coming in almost daily to London. There are weekly boats running to Hull and to Leith where the cost to the hon. Member's constituents is 1s. 7d. and not 3s. 6d.; so people have a much better chance of getting imported cucumbers in the more long distant hauls. The cost is Is. 7d. My next point is that were I to do as suggested I should have different margins for every grower, every whole- saler and every retailer. In dealing with an article which is in such short supply this year, it would be well nigh impossible to get an effective range of prices covering the whole country. I therefore suggest that I have tried to deal with a supply that is limited and to get the most effective distribution in the country having regard to the fact that the imported cucumbers will serve Scotland, the East Coast and London, and that the remaining supplies will, more or less, cover the whole country. I hope everybody will, more or less, get a fair share of the cucumbers that are available.

12.13 a.m.

Mr. Orr-Ewing (Weston-super-Mare)

If we were only thinking in terms of distribution on paper the Minister would have made out a case; but we were not dealing with a paper problem of distribution at all. We are dealing with two problems. The first is whether the consumer is to get the cucumber which he wants; the second is whether the grower who has been encouraged this year to grow cucumbers will get a reasonable price. My opinion in this matter is balanced on both those aspects—the problem of the grower and of the consumer. I would remind hon. Members of the grower's position in this matter. As the Minister said, during the war years the growers of cucumbers under glass were forbidden to grow them and they grew tomatoes which were considered to be very valuable food. What is the position now? Quite rightly, the Minister is encouraging the importation of tomatoes, and that importation is driving those who during the war grew tomatoes to the growing of cucumbers. The moment they have grown their cucumbers, the Minister comes down and tells them that it is impossible for them to distribute them over a wider area than that prescribed. As he admitted, he does not care if they do not go beyond a certain area. I do not think I am misrepresenting him.

What is to happen then? Cucumbers cannot be put in cold storage, and sometimes gluts will arise; when they will become unsaleable within the area at the fixed price; they cannot be exported outside. Is that fair treatment for the growers? Would it not have been possible for the Minister to have told the House that he would reconsider the matter in view of the arguments which have been used, to see whether consumers over a wide area could not have the opportunity to buy cucumbers, so that this would not be a vague paper Order which means nothing, but something which is real? I have always disliked attacking the Minister of Food in this House. I think that he has one of the most sticky jobs. I do not attack him personally. I know some of the problems which he is up against. One of the most serious problems is the lack of skilled advice which is available to him in these days in his Ministry. The picture is very different from what it was a few months ago.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

The hon. Member has wandered considerably from the Order, which deals with cucumbers.

Mr. Orr-Ewing

With the greatest respect, I think that this matter is closely related to cucumbers.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

The hon. Member had better resume his speech on the Order.

Mr. Orr-Ewing

I apologise it my remarks were misunderstood. I am making no reflection on the personnel of the Ministry who come under the command of the Minister. I am attempting to point out that in drafting an Order on a highly technical subject, such as the disposal of cucumbers grown in market gardens, you need a very deep knowledge. I know that the Minister and his advisers are doing their best in the matter.

I have the greatest possible sympathy for the Minister and his advisers, but I ask the right hon. Gentleman to look at this Order again. I can assure him that this Prayer has not been arranged to make trouble — [Interruption] — Hon. Members opposite always assume when a Private Member uses the rights which are his when he comes to the House, that he is doing so to make trouble—very far from it; he is using them in order to maintain the rights of Parliament and freedom for the people of this country. Jeers on this matter are ill placed. I would seriously ask the Minister to look at this matter again. It is not so simple as the Order pretends. It will do damage to the growers, and it will harm the consumers. There is no exaggeration in that statement. I hope that not merely will the right hon. Gentleman look at it again, but that he will examine the whole system of disposal.

12.18 a.m.

Mr. C. S. Taylor (Eastbourne)

I am sorry that the Minister came in late to this Debate and did not hear the opening speech, and that he rose so quickly to reply without hearing the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Weston-super-Mare (Mr. Orr-Ewing), and the speeches of one or two other Members who, I believe, wish to contribute to the Debate. I wish to ask only one question. If the Minister will refer to Section 9, paragraph (2) of this Order, I would ask why no person shall buy or sell cucumbers mixed with any other fruit. We treat these Orders as serious Orders presented by a serious Ministry. We feel that an Order of this nature should be a serious Order. I am sure that the House will give the Minister leave to speak again to answer this question.

12.21 a.m.

Colonel Crosthwaite-Eyre

Before the Minister replies to that question, I should like, if I may, to ask one or two questions. He has said the whole time, that he is a "consumers' Ministry." How can he reconcile that with what he has said tonight? Does he pretend to be some selective consumers' Ministry? Does he pretend that he ought to judge between this and that housewife? If so, how does he do it? Does he consider that, because one happens to be lucky enough to live within ten miles of a cucumber growing district, one is to have a cucumber; or does he consider that because one lives in the Northern parts, which seem to vex him so much, one should never have a cucumber? Is that what he calls being a "Consumers' Ministry," and what he calls "free, adequate and equitable distribution" To housewives of this country? We have been privileged to see him many times on the films and other places, telling people of his magnificent efforts. Is this one of them?

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

I fail to see how this Order has anything to do with the Minister being on the films.

Colonel Crosthwaite-Eyre

The Minister has said on the films that he is ensuring equitable distribution. He must wish to encourage producers to ensure the maximum amount of food. How is he going to do that under this Order, which is literally something to discourage anybody from growing cucumbers? Any pro- ducer knows that if he produces cucumbers he cannot sell them, because if he is in one of the market garden areas he is going to be faced with a glut, and if he is not—The Minister laughs. He should go and look at the market garden areas, and he could, perhaps, though this would be rash, grow a cucumber himself, and, perhaps—a still rasher effort—he could try to sell it under his own Order; and then he might understand, to some extent, some of the difficulties, The thing which we, on this side of the House, have against him is that he comes to the House late at night and says: "This is a weekly occurrence."It is far more important to us in this House that something should be done, even with a humble thing like the cucumber and so try to help the growth of food, than to come back flushed from America and announce that a further 200,000 tons of wheat have been given away. What we on this side of the House want to try to do is to get some sensible method of production and of wholesale and retail selling that will ensure that the things we can produce in this country are so distributed by the retailer and the wholesaler that every man and woman will get his or her fair share of the produce.

12.25 a.m.

Mr. R. S. Hudson (Southport)

This, I think, is the third Prayer of this nature that we on these Benches have felt compelled to bring before the House. Hon. Members opposite, if I may say so, are not really in the long run going to gain anything by ill manners.

Mr. Shurmer (Birmingham, Sparkbrook)

We do not forget the hungry 'twenties when the food which should have been for the people was being destroyed. Hon. Members opposite have no thought for the working classes.

Mr. Hudson

If hon. Members want to stay here a much longer period that is all right with me. If I may say so, the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Food would be well advised, instead of not answering the questions asked by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for New Forest and Christchurch (Colonel Crosthwaite-Eyre), to have expressed some regret for not having been in his place when the Debate started. The objection we have to these Orders is that they indicate on the part of the right hon. Gentleman and his Department a com- plete failure to carry out the policy that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food on two occasions announced, namely, that his Department was a consumers' Ministry. The right hon. Gentleman referred in this case to cucumbers, and he said—

Sir B. Smith

The Order refers to cucumbers.

Mr. Hudson

Yes, the Order refers to cucumbers. He said that during the war the growing of cucumbers was drastically restricted. I remember being responsible myself for the action, and I remember justifying it on the grounds that a cucumber was said to be the most expensive kind of water. I am quite sure that the housewife, wherever she is, is glad to see the right hon. Gentleman give this diversity. He has cut down beer and the water in beer, but he has now substituted the water in the cucumber. We are indeed grateful for small mercies. Is there any reason why, as he has got 15,000 tons, because of his failure to cut the country up into small enough areas, large numbers of people should be deprived of being able to enjoy any of these 15,000 tons? He said that he was afraid of having different prices in different parts of the country, and if he adopted a policy resulting in different prices in different parts of the country voices would be raised in protest. It is a fact that many of these Orders do provide for a different price in different parts of the country.

The right hon. Gentleman adduced as a second argument the fact that if he had different prices he would have to give different retail margins; and he seemed to think that the giving of a separate retail margin was something wrong in itself, and something which inevitably followed from different prices. But is that a fact? Will the right hon. Gentleman deny that there are a number of articles governed by Orders of this kind where there are different prices in different parts of the country, and where there is no difference in the retail margin? He knows perfectly well that that is so. He knows that there are numerous cases where he has divided the country up, not as in this Order, into two parts, but into three, four, five and up to nine different parts; and where, in order to secure an equitable distribution of a limited amount of supplies, it has been essential to take account of the fact that there are differences in the cost of railway transport between the source of origin of a particular foodstuff and the market.

I hope you will allow me, Sir, merely as an illustration of what I am saying, to quote a couple of cases from Orders made before this House quite recently. I will not go into their merits: I merely quote them as showing that what we ask should be done in the case of cucumbers has been done in numerous other cases without any of the dreadful consequences which the right hon. Gentleman says will follow. If hon. Members will look at the Order dealing with plums, they will find that Scotland is cut up into two parts. The whole of the United Kingdom is not divided merely into two as here, but differentiation is made inside Scotland. It will be found that area four includes the following areas of Scotland, namely, the counties of Argyll, Perth, Angus, Kincardine, Moray and so forth; and area two includes Scotland other than the areas included in area four. If that can be done in one matter, why not in another? The obvious answer is that it is merely lack of convenience or lack of trouble on the part of the right hon. Gentleman and his Department.

Then the right hon. Gentleman said there must not be different prices. Again, merely for illustration, let me quote two examples of different prices. Again I take plums. Hon. Members will find that in area two in Scotland the maximum retail price is 5½., and in area four, the maximum retail price is 6d. So in fact, by the right hon. Gentleman's own action, he is doing what he says would be dreadful and against public policy in another case. In order to disprove the allegation that differential prices arise out of differential retail margins, let me quote from the same table, where we find the maximum price of sale by the wholesaler is 28s. 7d. in either case, but the maximum price on a sale by a secondary wholesaler is 32s. 1d. in both cases; but the maximum addition for transport in one case, in area two, is 5s. 10d. and in area four a further 12s. 10d. So the House will see that there is not a vestige of truth in the allegation or suggestion put forward in defence of this suggestion that we must not have differential prices because they are bad. We have got them. The secondary argument is that if there are differential prices, there must be differential margins for the retailers. There is, in fact, allowed a different margin in one area from that in another to cover cost of transport.

If it can be done with one article, I suggest that if the right hon. Gentleman really told his Department to produce an equitable Order for the supply of cucumbers to allow everybody to buy them, there would be no difficulty at all. It might mean an extra table or an extra column in these tables, but it would Toe feasible. As it is, we shall have to go on and keep the House up in order that we may get the right hon. Gentleman to see our point of view. I hope he will take the Order back and concede our suggestion.

Mr. E. P. Smith (Ashford)

In view of the fact that the word cucumber suggests green salads, may I ask if the right hon. Gentleman is aware that there are many cases of lettuces—

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

They cannot be discussed on this Order.

12.37 a.m.

Sir Wavell Wakefield (St. Marylebone)

Are we not going to have a reply from the Minister on all these points of great substance which have been raised? There have been very cogent arguments used by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Southport (Mr. R. S. Hudson) who has given examples showing that this equitable distribution of cucumbers could be carried out. Is it fair to the House and to the country that the Minister of Food should make no effort to secure nation wide distribution? We on this side of the House have shown how nation wide distribution can be obtained. We have shown by this Order on cucumbers, as we have shown with previous Orders, that the Ministry of Food is not being run in an efficient and satisfactory way. This Prayer is again a test of what is happening in the right hon. Gentleman's Department. He has a chance to answer all the points we have made, but he says nothing.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

The hon. Member is in grave danger of repetition.

Sir W. Wakefield

I will avoid repeating myself. I only make these points because I think that the House is entitled, in fact the country is entitled, to have a reply to the points—the technical points—which have been made.

Sir John Mellor (Sutton Coldfield)

I think the right hon. Gentleman has been amazingly discourteous to the House tonight. First, he did not arrive in the Chamber until after the mover had sat down, and the mover rose to put certain specific questions. The right hon. Gentleman is asked to answer these points, yet not only has he not apologised for arriving a quarter of an hour late, but his conduct in not replying is unworthy.

Mr. Hollis (Devizes)

Is it not a fact that the Minister explicitly promised my hon. Friend that if he repeated his questions he would answer them? My hon. Friend did repeat his questions; therefore he is entitled to expect an answer.

Question put, That the Cucumbers Order, 1946 (S.R. & O., 1946, No. 613), dated 25th April. 1946, a copy of which was presented on 3oth April, be annulled.

The House divided: Ayes, 37; Noes, 154.

Division No. 181] AYES. [12.40 a.m.
Agnew, Cmdr. P. G. Lennox-Boyd, A. T. Stuart, Rt. Hon. J. (Moray)
Aitken, Hon. Max. Lucas-Tooth, Sir H. Studholme, H. G.
Birch, Nigel Marples, A. E. Sutcliffe, H.
Boyd-Carpenter, J. A. Marshall, D. (Bodmin) Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T. Mellor, Sir J. Teeling, William
Challen, C. Neven-Spence, Sir B. Wakefield, Sir W W.
Conant, Maj. R. J. E. Orr-Ewing, l. L. Walker-Smith, D.
Crowder, Capt. J. F. E. Prescott, Stanley Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)
Cuthbert, W. N. Price-White, Lt.-Col. D Young, Sir A. S L. (Partick)
Donner, Sqn.-Ldr. P. W. Raikes, H. V.
Fox, Sqn.-Ldr Sir G. Scott, Lord W. TELLERS FOK THE AYES.
Hollis, M. C. Smith, E. P. (Ashford)
Hudson, Rt. Hon. R. S.(Southport) Stoddart-Scott, Col. M. Colonel Crosthwaite-Eyre an
Hutchison, Lt.-Cdr. Clark (Edin'gh, W.) Strauss, H. G. (English Universities) Mr. Spence.
Adams, Richard (Balham) Fletcher, E. G. M. (Islington, E.) Millington, Wing-Comdr. E R.
Adams, W. T. (Hammersmith, South) Forman, J. C. Mitchison, Maj. G. R.
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Foster, W. (Wigan) Monslow, W.
Anderson, A. (Motherwell) Fraser, T. (Hamilton) Morris, Lt.-Col. H. (Sheffield, C.)
Attewell, H C. Freeman, Maj. J. (Watford) Moyle, A.
Baird, Capt. J Ganley, Mrs C. S Nally, W.
Barton, C Gilzean, A. Neal, H. (Claycross)
Bechervaise, A. E. Glanville, J. E. (Conselt) Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford)
Bing, Capt. G. H. C. Gordon-Walker, P. C. Noel-Buxton, I ad[...]
Binns, J. Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Wakefield) O'Brien, T.
Blyton, W. R. Greenwood, A. W. J. (Heywood) Orbach, M.
Boardman, H. Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley) Paget, R. T
Bowden, Flg.-Offr. H. W Griffiths, Capt. W. D. (Moss Side) Pearson, A.
Braddock, T. (Mitcham) Hale, Leslie Perrins, W
Brown, George (Belper) Hall, W. G. (Colne Valley) Platts-Mills, J. F. F
Brown, T. J. (lnce) Hamilton, Lieut.-Cot. R. Popplewell, E.
Champion, A. J. Hannan, W. (Maryhill) Price, M. Philips
Clitherow, Dr. R. Hardy, E. A. Pritt, D. N.
Cobb, F. A. Herbison, Mist M. Ranger, J.
Coldrick, W. Holman, P. Rankin, J.
Collindridge, F. Hubbard, T. Robens, A.
Collins, V. J. Hutchinson, H L. (Rusholme) Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)
Comyns, Dr. L. Irving, W. J Robertson, J. J. (Berwick)
Cook, T. F. Janner, B. Royle, C
Corbet, Mrs. F. K. (Camb'well, N.W.) Jeger, G. (Winchester) Sargood, R.
Crawley, Flt.-Lieut. A. Jones, D. T. (Hartlepools) Shackleton, Wing-Cdr. E, A. A.
Davies, Edward (Burslem) Jones, J. H. (Bolton) Shawcross, Sir H (St. Helens)
Davies, Harold (Leek) Keenan, W. Shurmer, P.
de Freitas, Geoffrey Kenyan, C. Silverman, J. (Erdington)
Delargy, Captain H. J. King, E. M. Skeffington, A. M.
Diamond, J. Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr. E. Skinnard, F. W.
Dobbie, W. Kinley, J Smith, Rt. Hon. Sir B. (Rotherhithe)
Dodds, N. N. Kirby, B. V. Smith, S. H. (Hull, S.W-)
Douglas, F. C. R Lang, G. Snow, Capt J. W
Driberg, T. E. N. Lee, F. (Hulme) Soskice, Maj. Sir F.
Dumpleton, C. W. Lipton, Lt.-Col. M. Steele, T.
Dye, S. McAllister, G. Stewart, Capt. Michael (Futham, E.)
Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C. Mack, J. D. Stubbs, A. E.
Edelman, M. McKinlay, A. S. Swingler, S.
Edwards, N. (Caerphilly) Macpherson. T. (Romford) Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)
Edwards, W. J. (Whitechapel) Mayhew, C. P. Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)
Evans, E. (Lowestoft) Medland, H. M Taylor, Dr. S. (Barnet)
Fairhurst, F. Middleton, Mrs. L. Thorneycroft, H. (Clayton)
Farthing, W. J. Mikardo, Ian Timmons, J.
Ungoed-Thomas, L. Wells, W. T. (Walsall) Wills, Mrs. E. A.
Usborne, Henry While, H. (Derbyshire, N.E.) Woodburn, A.
Walkden, E. Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W. Yates, V. F.
Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst) Wigg, Col. G. E. Zilliacus, K.
Wallace, H. W. (Walthamstow, E.) Wilkins, W. A.
Warbey, W. N. Willey, F. T (Sunderland) TELLERS FOR THE NOES
Watson, W. M. Williams, D. J. (Neath)
Weitzman, D. Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove) Mr. Joseph Henderson and
Wells, P. L. (Faversham) Williams, W. R. (Heston) Mr. Simmons.
Resolved: "That this House do now adjourn."—[Mr. Pearson.]
Adjourned accordingly at Twelve Minutes to One o'Clock.