HC Deb 26 July 1950 vol 478 cc456-7
61. Mr. W. Hudson

asked the Minister of Food how much profit was made by his Department on the sale of cocoa beans, including sales to British manufacturers, for the years 1947, 1948 and 1949, or the nearest similar accounting periods; and whether he will now reduce the price of this commodity to British manufacturers to enable them to compete in the dollar area.

Mr. Webb

The figures for the past three financial years, to 31st March are as follow: 1947–48, £900,000; 1948–49 £1,620,000; 1949–50 (estimated), £4 million. These profits arose mainly from sales for the home market. My Department's price of cocoa beans used in exports to dollar markets is fixed on the basis of New York market quotations, which enables our manufacturers to compete. Market prices are at present rising, and it would not be prudent to make a reduction in our selling prices while this rise continues.

Mr. Hudson

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that manufacturers must pay higher prices today when they are buying from his Department than manufacturers in America and Canada buying in a free market? Can he say why that is so?

Mr. Webb

While the world price is rising, I think it is better to stick to the existing arrangements.

Mr. Walter Fletcher

Is not the difference in price between the price paid to the native producer and the price the Minister gets over the period something like £70 million up to date? Will he get the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) to approve of this Government profiteering?

Mr. W. Hudson

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that while the position remains as it is we are in great danger of losing dollars, because our manufacturers cannot compete in the American and Canadian markets?