HC Deb 17 May 1950 vol 475 cc1207-8
49. Mr. Sorensen

asked the Minister of Food whether steps will be taken to ensure that groundnuts imported into this country shall be shelled before entry or by the wholesalers; what proportion of unshelled groundnuts are made available for the retail trade; and whether these groundnuts will be sold by weight with the price clearly indicated.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food (Mr. Frederick Willey)

The groundnuts on sale to the public recently came from stocks privately imported, and my right hon. Friend has no power to require them to be shelled before sale, to be sold by weight (except when pre-packed), or to bear price markings. No further private imports are being allowed at present, and no Ministry imported groundnuts are released for retail sale.

Mr. Sorensen

Is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that a most unpleasant nuisance is caused to the public by the people shelling groundnuts in cinemas and other places? Cannot he take some action to see that the shelling is done elsewhere?

Mrs. Castle

Is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that barrow boys in London are selling groundnuts at 6d. for a bag containing a minute quantity, and can he tell the House who is getting the profit from this racket?

Mr. Joynson-Hicks

Can the hon. Gentleman say how in future, if no groundnuts are to be imported for sale to the public, the public is to have the opportunity of buying them?

Mr. Sorensen

May I press the Minister again on this point? Surely it is not impossible to avoid what is admittedly a great nuisance to the public at present by having groundnuts shelled before sale?

Mr. Willey

As I have already explained, if this be a nuisance it will not be a nuisance that will persist for long.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

Is it not a fact that we are dealing only with groundnuts from East Africa, and that the public would be more interested in seeing groundnuts than in worrying about the state in which they arrive?

Lieut.-Colonel Lipton

Is the Minister aware that there is a considerable and widespread dissatisfaction among the worthy people who have to clean out cinemas and other places of entertainment by reason of the fact that he refuses to have these groundnuts shelled?

Mr. Assheton

Would the Parliamentary Secretary assure the hon. Member for Blackburn, East (Mrs. Castle), that no one in Blackburn would be so foolish as to pay high prices for groundnuts?