HC Deb 17 March 1947 vol 435 cc28-9
44. Mr. Parker

asked the Minister of Food whether he will take control of wholesaling in the greengrocery trade to prevent conditions of sale being imposed on greengrocers and passed on to the public.

67. Mr. W. R. Williams

asked the Minister of Food whether he is aware of the growing practice whereby small traders in the Greater London area who receive their supplies of apples and onions from Covent Garden are compelled to take quantities of swedes for which they have no sale or to pay exorbitant prices for the required fruit; that in consequence the public are greatly overcharged; and what action he proposes to take in the matter.

Mr. Strachey

Conditional sales, whether imposed by wholesalers or retailers are prohibited by the Food (Conditions of Sale) Order and are, therefore, illegal. I will take action against those who contravene the Order, and if my hon. Friends can assist me by supplying particulars of any attempts to impose a condition of sale, I will gladly have them investigated.

Mr. Parker

is it not time that the whole distribution of greenstuffs was overhauled?

Mr. W. R. Williams

Will not the Minister take some very strong action on his own initiative against a practice which is becoming a very common one and which is causing serious concern not only to the housewives and the other consumers, but even to the best elements of the trade itself? Surely, the time has come for some very strong direct action on the part of the Minister himself?

Mr. H. D. Hughes

Will my right hon. Friend also make public at what stage in the distribution process the present outrageous prices of greengrocery arise?

Mr. Wilkes

Will the Minister remember that if he would reimpose price controls on vegetables, it would be welcomed by almost every housewife in the country?

Mr. Strachey

The price control question is a larger and more important one. On this question, it is an enforcement problem. There is a very great deal to be said for the most drastic action possible.