HC Deb 19 February 1947 vol 433 cc1181-3
61. Mr. Medland

asked the Minister of Food whether his attention has been called to the shortage of potatoes in the city of Plymouth, and the consequent addition to the worries of the housewife; and what steps he is taking to remedy this state of affairs.

Dr. Summerskill

Yes, Sir. Some of the Ministry's accessible reserves are being I used to meet the most urgent needs; but the resumption of more normal supplies is dependent upon the weather, which has seriously hindered movement off farms and shipments from Northern Ireland.

Mr. Medland

Is my hon. Friend aware that unless immediate steps are taken there will be no supplies at all this weekend?

Mr. Butcher

Can the hon. Lady explain why, till we had the present Ministry of Food, there was always a supply of potatoes, no matter what the weather?

Dr. Summerskill

The hon. Gentleman, should know that a change of Government-has made no difference to keeping. potatoes in clamps.

Mr. Awbery

Is the Minister aware that seed potatoes are now being sold for immediate consumption; that this is likely to affect the harvest next year; and what steps is she taking to prevent it?

Dr. Summerskill

That is another question.

Mr. Medland

Will my hon. Friend tell me what she proposes to do about this business?

Dr. Summerskill

Certainly. The Ministry have reserves which are kept in barns, and we are ensuring that these reserves are sent to those who have priority needs.

69. Mr. Dodds-Parker

asked the Minister of Food, in view of the shortage of potatoes in this country and the existing surplus of potatoes in the U.S.A., what steps have been taken to import potatoes into this country from the U.S.A. during the past three months and what has prevented a greater importation than has taken place.

Dr. Summerskill

No potatoes have been imported from the United States in the past three months, owing to the prevalence of bacterial ring-rot, a disease unknown here. For this reason I have reluctantly decided that for the present we should not arrange any importation.

Mr. Baldwin

Is the hon. Lady aware that one of the reasons for the shortage of potatoes at the present time is that, owing to the shortage of labour, there are many thousands of acres of potatoes still not lifted; and will she consult with her colleague the Minister of Labour to see that that position does not arise in regard to the harvest of 1947?

Mr. Langford-Holt

Does the hon. Lady really mean that the disease is unknown here; or does she mean it is not experienced here?

Dr. Summerskill

Not experienced here.

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