HC Deb 19 June 1950 vol 476 cc839-41
14. Brigadier Clarke

asked the Minister of Food what success he has had in his negotiations for extra sugar supplies with the delegates from the West Indies.

Mr. Webb

The discussions are still going on; we have had three meetings with the delegation so far. But I must make it plain once more that these talks are about long-term price and quantity guarantees from 1953 onwards, not about any extra sugar which may be immediately available, since we are already buying all that is expected from the Colonies.

Brigadier Clarke

Will the Minister say when he anticipates to be able to stop bulk purchases of sugar?

Sir Peter Macdonald

How long does the Minister anticipate these negotiations will go on? They have dragged on for months, and it is about time they came to an end.

Mr. Webb

They are not dragging on, they have been going fairly quickly. I think there will be one more meeting and I think it will be possible for the Secretary of State for the Colonies to make a statement within a week, but not this week.

Mr. Driberg

In these negotiations, does my right hon. Friend always bear in mind that some of these Colonies are more dependent on this one export than, for instance, countries such as Australia?

Mr. Webb indicated assent


Mr. Braine

Will the Minister bear in mind the requirements of the British housewife?

28. Whig-Commander Bullus

asked the Minister of Food if, in view of world supplies of sugar now available, he will increase the sugar ration.

33. Mr. Hollis

asked the Minister of Food whether, in view of the abundant supply, he will deration sugar.

Mr. Webb

No, Sir. There will certainly be no glut of sugar this year.

Wing-Commander Bullus

Is the Minister aware that he was recently reported as having said that in two years' time there would be a world glut of sugar? Is that the length of time which he places on the rationing of sugar?

Mr. Webb

First of all, I did not say there would be a glut. I said that if the present plans for production go through, we will have to be careful about a possible glut, but two years' time is different from now. The sugar that formed the subject of that speculation is not even grown, and at the moment there is no possibility of increasing the ration unless it were possible for us to spend more dollars on this commodity.

Sir H. Williams

Why does not the right hon. Gentleman buy from the West Indian delegation the extra 75,000 tons that they are willing to sell, and which is available now?

44. Mr. George Thomas

asked the Minister of Food whether he will grant a special allocation of sugar to old people who are in receipt of the extra tea ration.

Mr. Webb

To give everyone over 70 extra sugar would mean a drain on our supplies which, I am afraid, we just cannot afford at present.

Mr. Peter Smithers

Has the Minister not now investigated the probability that his estimate about a glut is fairly near, within a year or two? Surely he can tide the old people over that period, particularly in view of the fact that some of them may not live to enjoy the glut?

Mr. Webb

Only at the expense of other consumers, that is all.