HC Deb 14 July 1947 vol 440 cc19-20
38. Sir W. Smithers

asked the Minister of Food if in view of the price anomalies which exist and of the inability of certain producers to sell their produce, he will remove all controls from the more perishable fruits and vegetables and allow the law of supply and demand freely to operate.

Mr. Strachey

Within the last 18 months the great majority of home grown fruits and vegetables have been freed from price control. As I recently informed the House I am also considering whether we cannot now usefully open up both the wholesale and retail trade in fruit and vegetables to new entrants. On the other hand, I am still concerned at vegetable prices and if these do not come down and stay down now that main crop supplies are coming in, I may have to re-impose price control.

Sir W. Smithers

Is the Minister aware that the release from control of soft fruits is entirely due to my influence? [Laughter.] Hon. Members may laugh but is that not true? Does the Minister realise the elementary principle that when we restrict consumption we automatically and inevitably restrict production?

Mrs. Ayrton Gould

Is my right hon. Friend aware that vegetables from the very small producers never get to the stands in Covent Garden Market at all, so that retailers do not have a chance of buying them cheap? Will he see to it that everything that goes to Covent Garden Market is put up, so that retailers get a chance of buying them as cheaply as possible and selling them?

Mr. Strachey

I am far from supposing that everything is well in the retail and wholesale distribution of fruit and vegetables.