§ 46. Mr. Dodds-Parker
asked the Minister of Food whether his attention has been called to the grievance of banana growers in Sierra Leone that, whilst his Department is paying for bananas from that territory £27 per ton, less £5 against any claims for bad or poor quality, such bananas are to be sold in Great Britain at an average price of £170 per ton; and whether, in view of the fact that the present price paid to Sierra Leone growers is insufficient to allow for expansion of their plantations, he intends to revise the arrangements in the near future.
§ Mr. Webb
We are buying these bananas under a contract with the Sierra Leone Government, and I consider the price quite fair for the first year of a new trade. Because of the nature of the fruit, the costs of shipping, storing, ripening and distributing bananas are undoubtedly high. The retail price, in this country, in fact, works out at £103 a ton, but my Department's selling price is little more than half that figure.
§ Mr. Dodds-Parker
Would the Minister point out this very considerable profit to some of his colleagues behind him, who are always talking about the profits made by middlemen?
§ Mr. Mikardo
Would my right hon. Friend also bear in mind that hon. Gentlemen opposite are equally annoyed when his Department makes a profit and when it makes a loss?