HC Deb 18 October 1950 vol 478 cc2047-8
56. Sir W. Darling

asked the Minister of Food if he is now prepared to allow egg producers to sell direct to consumers provided the maximum price is not exceeded.

Mr. Webb

Producers with 25 head of poultry or less are already allowed to sell their eggs direct to consumers and this may be done free of price control. I am afraid I could not extend this permission to the larger producers at present because this is the season when as many eggs as possible are needed to maintain fair allocations to consumers generally.

Sir W. Darling

Will the right hon. Gentleman consider that producers above the 25 limit might find an immediate market where they could sell at the appropriate prices? Would it not be to the advantage of the public if people were able to get fresher eggs than others?

Mr. Webb

Even if we were to do what the hon. Gentleman suggests the producers would come to the Ministry, because we pay a subsidy and they would get a better price from the Ministry than in the open market.

58. Mr. Leather

asked the Minister of Food why nearly half the eggs supplied to the Winford Orthopaedic Hospital Group in the last few months have been bad.

Mr. Webb

I think the hon. Member is misinformed. Out of about 60 boxes, each containing 360 eggs, supplied to this hospital in the past three months there was, in fact, one complaint about bad eggs. This was on 12th August about a part box and I understand the wholesale supplier replaced it immediately. The wholesaler informs me that the returned eggs were found to include two or three that were broken, that the others were good, and that he was able to dispose of them without difficulty. I also understand that the secretary of the hospital has described the Press report on the matter as pure fabrication.

Mr. Leather

Is the Minister aware that I have had many complaints from people in this hospital in my constituency, and that the hospital is in the centre of one of the best egg-producing districts in the country? Is he further aware that, owing to the arrangements made by his Ministry, by the time the Somerset eggs reach us they usually turn out to be Polish?

Mr. Webb

The hon. Gentleman really must not make allegations of that kind. When I saw the Question I thought it was a serious matter and I took comprehensive steps to find out the facts. In fact, the hospital repudiated all the allegations contained in the Question.

Mr. Leather

Is the Minister aware that my information was given to me by the authorities concerned, and that it is completely accurate?

Hon. Members