HC Deb 05 December 1949 vol 470 cc1519-20
29. Mr. Skeffington-Lodge

asked the Minister of Food whether he is aware of the shortage and big rise in the price of pepper during recent months; and if he will take steps to fix a maximum price for this commodity.

31. Mr. Beswick

asked the Minister of Food if he is aware of the increase in the present price of pepper over the price one year ago and in 1938; and if he will now enforce a reasonable maximum price.

Dr. Summerskill

The high prices for pepper arise from a world shortage due primarily to the delay in restoring production in the Far East. It would be almost impossible to establish a maximum price while the imported cost fluctuates so widely, and while there would be the risk that if the maximum price were below world market levels we should lose such supplies as we can buy at present.

Mr. Skeffington-Lodge

Is my right hon. Friend aware that it is quite impossible in many shops to buy any pepper at all, and that where one can get it the price is sometimes two or three times what it was a few months ago? Does she not think that this position is extremely unsatisfactory and will she not consider imposing some control whereby there will be a fairer distribution at a fairer price?

Dr. Summerskill

I must remind my hon. Friend of what I have stated, which is that the demand is greater than the supply and that there is no evidence of any speculation or cornering of the market.