HC Deb 10 May 1948 vol 450 cc1724-5
34. Sir W. Smithers

asked the Minister of Food if, in view of the removal of potato rationing, he will now state the present stocks of potatoes in the country; how many tons of potatoes are held by his Department; and what is the cost to the taxpayer of the policy of rationing of the 1947 crop.

Mr. Strachey

Stocks of potatoes, including those held by the trade, were estimated at 1st May to be 500,000 tons, of which 310,000 tons were held by the Ministry. On 1st May, 1947, stocks were 700,000 tons. The cost of the rationing scheme is estimated to have been some £500.

Sir W. Smithers

Does not the Minister's answer show the panic and folly of potato rationing; further, may I ask him whether he still has swedes and turnips on the brain?

40. Mr. Baldwin

asked the Minister of Food if he is aware that his Department has recently reduced the price of potatoes to wholesale merchants, with the result that those traders who have been carrying stocks in order to even out supplies to consumers are now unable to sell except at a loss; and what steps he proposes to take to prevent this loss.

Mr. Strachey

No, Sir, I could not be aware of this, as there has been no change in the price of potatoes to wholesale merchants.

Mr. Baldwin

I will put my question in a different way. Is it right that the Minister is allowing an extra £1 per ton marginal profit to wholesalers above that allowed by the 1947 Potato Order?

Mr. Strachey

With respect, I do not think it is the case that that is happening.