HC Deb 18 October 1950 vol 478 cc2045-6
54. Sir W. Darling

asked the Minister of Food if he will consider confining Press advertising to home produced foods, especially oats, herrings, fruits and vegetables which are abundantly available.

Mr. Webb

The analysis of the Ministry's advertising expenditure which I gave the hon. Member on 15th May last shows that in practice the greater part of it has been devoted to advertising home produced foodstuffs. But I could not agree that the Ministry's advertising should be concentrated on the objectives mentioned by the hon. Member, since its main purpose must be to assist consumers rather than particular groups of producers.

61. Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

asked the Minister of Food whether it was with his approval that an advertisement, entitled "Food Facts, No. 528," containing controversial matters, was inserted by his Department in the national Press.

Mr. Webb

Yes; but I cannot agree that the information given is controversial.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

Does the right hon. Gentleman recall that the advertisement has a paragraph headed "Why sugar is short," and that it contained the statement that the present supply is really all that the country can get? Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware from the Debates in this House that that is a highly controversial statement, which should not be financed from public funds?

Mr. Webb

I do not agree that it is a controversial statement at all. It is a statement of fact.

Colonel Stoddart-Scott

Ask the West Indies.

Mr. Webb

What a stupid interruption. We now get every ounce of sugar we can outside the dollar area. Within the dollar area there is some sugar, but we have not the dollars for it. After all, the Opposition must make up their minds. They cannot close the dollar gap and find dollars for timber for 300,000 houses and for newsprint for newspapers, and still obtain extra sugar.

Mr. W. Fletcher

As the right hon. Gentleman is profiteering in cocoa by selling it to the monopolists at the highest possible price for dollars could he not get a few dollars out of it to pay for more sugar?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

Arising out of the right hon. Gentleman's initial answer, may I ask whether he does not consider that he is in a very difficult position in judging whether or not such an issue is controversial? Is it not quite wrong that the Minister should have to decide whether an issue affecting his own Department is controversial or not?

Mr. Webb

If we entered into an argument at Question time as to what is fact and what is opinion I would be ruled out of order, but I should like to debate it with the hon. Member any time he likes.

Mr. Osborne

Is it not the case that if production were increased generally we could have more timber for houses and more sugar?

Mr. Speaker

This seems to be becoming more of a Debate than the asking of questions for information.