HC Deb 07 November 1949 vol 469 cc882-3
36. Sir John Mellor

asked the Minister of Food whether he made a profit or a loss upon the Algerian wine sold to the German wine trade after allowing for all expenses of purchase, transport, storage and sale; and what was the amount expressed in sterling.

35. Mr. C. S. Taylor

asked the Minister of Food how far the profit on the sale of Algerian wine to Germany covered the costs of carriage of the wine from Algiers to this country, the landing charges, despatch fees, rent while lying in warehouse, the bottling charges, insurance, and subsequential shipping to Germany, and all other outgoings.

Mr. Strachey

We expect the proceeds of the sale of the remaining stock of Algerian wine to cover the purchase price, but not by itself to cover the charges mentioned by the hon. Members. However, the amount by which it fails to do so will certainly be smaller than the profits which we have already realised on other transactions in Algerian and other wines. I therefore repeat that we shall make a small profit on our buying and selling of wine, which has now been completed.

Sir J. Mellor

Does the right hon. Gentleman mean, therefore, that he made a profit on the sale of wine to the British and a loss on its sale to the Germans, and would it not have been better if it had been the other way round?

Mr. Strachey

Some of these transactions were with overseas buyers and some with home buyers. The essence of the matter is that, taking the transactions as a whole, they have covered the expenses. [An HON. MEMBER: "What about the taxpayer?"] The British taxpayer did not pay. I do not know what the hon. Member means. I am sorry to disappoint hon. Members who think they have discovered some great loss. It is simply not the case.

Mr. Bossom

Could not the Minister give the actual figures and prove the case?

Mr. Strachey

Until this recent sale is completed and all the wine delivered, it is impossible to give the actual figures.

Mr. Henry Strauss

When the right hon. Gentleman bought this wine was he, in the immortal phrase of his Parliamentary Secretary, "pandering to an acquired taste"?

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