HC Deb 05 July 1948 vol 453 cc16-7
32. Mr. E. P. Smith

asked the Minister of Food why his Department refused a recent offer from South Africa of 1,500 tons of Basuto White Peas at £38 5s. per ton at a time when the major pea-milling plants in this country are standing idle.

Mr. Strachey

I am afraid we could not afford to buy this quantity as we had already spent nearly all the money allocated for the purchase of pulses under the South African Loan Agreement.

Mr. Smith

Surely, the right hon. Gentleman realises that South Africa is in the sterling area; and in view of the fact that I warned him of the situation in this trade two or three months ago, could not he have done this little action to alleviate the position?

Mr. Strachey

South Africa is in the sterling area, but that does not mean that we do not have to pay for imports from South Africa, and I assure the hon. Gentleman that we cannot afford to increase them.

Air-Commodore Harvey

Is the Minister still a buyer of white peas?

Mr. Strachey

They are, I think, bought on Ministry account, but I would like to have notice of that question.