HC Deb 28 June 1950 vol 476 cc2283-4
53. Major Guy Lloyd

asked the Minister of Food whether he is now in a position to state what was the total outlay by his Department for transport and distribution charges on the gift of apples from British Columbia; what this represented per pound of those sold; what prices were charged to wholesalers and retailers; what price was paid by the public; and how much profit was made on the transaction by his Department.

56. Mr. Hurd

asked the Minister of Food how he disposed of 1,000,000 bushels of British Columbian apples which were recently given to this country by Canada.

Mr. Webb

It proved possible to arrange to distribute 50,000 boxes free to school children, and the rest had necessarily to be disposed of to the public through normal trade channels at prevailing prices. The British Columbia growers who made this generous gift to us knew that we were doing this and understood that no other course was possible. So far as can at present be ascertained, transport and distribution charges, including Ministry overheads, amounted to about £700,000, or approximately 3¾d. per lb. of apples sold. The average price realised on sales to wholesalers was 6½d. per lb. Sales by wholesalers to retailers and by retailers to the public were subject to price control, with maximum retail prices varying from 8½d. to 10½d. per lb., but some sales may have been made at prices below these. The profit on the transaction is expected to be about £500,000.

Major Lloyd

In view of that information, for which I thank the Minister, may I ask whether it is not a great pity that those most generous donors from Canada were not aware when they gave these apples that this was the kind of thing which would result from their gift?

Mr. Webb

I think they were aware. I discussed the matter with the Prime Minister of British Columbia and he fully agreed with the course that we were taking. It has resulted in a profit and we are now considering what is the best way of dealing with that profit.

Mr. Hurd

Will the Minister write frankly and fully to the Minister of Agriculture of Canada who lately, in the Canadian House of Commons, expressed the misgivings of Canada as to how we are dealing with this gift?

Commander Noble

Could not the profit be given to the Winnipeg Flood Fund?

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