HC Deb 21 April 1948 vol 449 cc1812-3
50. Sir Waldron Smithers

asked the Minister of Food what amount has been paid since 1st January, 1947, to the latest available date to traders appointed as agents for the purpose of the purchase of potatoes.

Dr. Summerskill

Between 1st January, 1947, and 31st March, 1948, approximately £295,000 was paid to agents for the purchase of potatoes and carrots. Most of this was for potatoes, but I am afraid it is not possible to separate their cost.

Sir W. Smithers

Has the hon. Lady and her right hon. Friend tried to clear up this mess in the Ministry? Why did the Minister, on 23rd February, quote a figure of £190,000 and, on another occasion, said that no expense had been involved? Which is right?

Dr. Summerskill

The hon. Gentleman does not seem to understand the simple operations of business. The hon. Gentleman asked before whether we had assumed these functions. We had not. These men are operating as our agents and we are paying them for their work.