HC Deb 26 April 1948 vol 450 cc26-7
67. Sir W. Smithers

asked the Minister of Food how much money is owing to his Department by British subjects resident in Britain; for how long it has been owing; and what is the extent of the amounts which can be considered as bad debts.

Dr. Summerskill

I regret it is not possible to give an up-to-date statement of debtors since these figures are assembled only once a year. In any case it would be impossible to distinguish between British and non-British subjects who buy from the Ministry. I have, however, had extracted some figures for the year to 31st March, 1947, and I shall with the hon. Member's permission circulate them in the OFFICIAL REFORT.

Sir W. Smithers

While I thank the hon. Lady for that reply, may I ask whether she will make inquiries as to how much foodstuffs the Ministry have bought and paid for, for which the Ministry are not taking delivery, and will she try to check and tighten up the controls on purchases all through her Department?

Dr. Summerskill

I think I can reassure the hon. Gentleman that our business is conducted on a very high level when I tell him that our bad debts amount to £9 in every £1 million.

Following is the information:

Debts owing to the Ministry of Food

  1. 1. Trade debtors at 31st March, 1947, including debts due by residents abroad, were £41,952,014.
  2. 2. Trade debtors consist largely of current debts which are normally settled regularly and without delay. A much smaller part would be items in suspense or in dispute waiting for verification.
  3. 3. The credit allowed by the Ministry to traders is governed to some extent by trade custom. In many cases cash is required before goods are released and where credit is granted it is normally limited to a maximum of 7 to 10 days.
  4. 4. Sales to British subjects resident in Britain are not recorded separately from other sales.
  5. 5. Bad debts written off during the year to 31st March, 1947, amounted to a little less than £9 in every £1,000,000.

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