HC Deb 27 July 1949 vol 467 cc2473-4
52. Mr. McKie

asked the Minister of Food the financial loss resulting from the Government agreement to buy Cornish early potatoes.

Dr. Summerskill

I would refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my right hon. Friend to the hon. Member for Salisbury (Mr. J. Morrison) on 18th July, which related to the Cornish crop.

Mr. McKie

While thanking the right hon. Lady for the information she has given in that reply, may I ask her if she is aware that this disastrous agreement completely dislocated the early potato market in Scotland and having regard to the loss the Government sustained, will she give an assurance that no such agreement will be entered into again?

Dr. Summerskill

I think the hon. Gentleman is quite wrong. He must make some more inquiries into this question in Scotland. He knows I would never mislead him. He will discover that the Cornish potatoes were disposed of by 13th June and that the Scottish "earlies" did not come into the market until after that date.

Mr. McKie

Is the right hon. Lady aware that those facts are not quite true? There was considerable dislocation. I hope she will take that from me in the same spirit.

Mr. Osborne

Is the right hon. Lady aware that the farmers of Lincolnshire have made similar protests about these Cornish potatoes, and would she look into the question and give them the answer for which they have asked?

Dr. Summerskill

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will put a Question down. This concerns Scotland.

Commander Agnew

Is it not a fact that the potatoes of Cornwall left the county in admirable condition, and that it was only due to the delays occasioned by the mismanagement of the Ministry of Food that many hundreds of tons of them languished in British railway wagons instead of reaching the housewife?

Mr. De la Bère

Is it not on a parallel with agriculture?

Mr. Dye

In view of the nature of the particular crop of new potatoes, would it not be better to leave it for another year entirely to the producers and the trade to distribute them, rather than to carry on with the present guarantee?

Hon. Members

Come over here.

Dr. Summerskill

I am afraid I cannot always take the advice of my hon. Friend.