HC Deb 21 June 1951 vol 489 cc705-6
60. Surgeon Lieut.-Commander Bennett

asked the Minister of Agriculture what representations he has received from agricultural executive committees and other bodies about the shortage of suitably equipped vans for the transport of strawberry crops this year, in view of the undesirability of such fruit being packed in depth in vehicles which are unsuitable; and what action he proposes to take.

Mr. T. Williams

I have not recently received any representations of this kind, but I understand that the National n Farmers' Union are at present in consultation with the railway authorities about the transport requirements of strawberry growers in Hampshire.

Surgeon Lieut.-Commander Bennett

Is not it a fact that in recent years strawberries have been sent in baskets only one layer deep in the bottom of open trucks; although for purposes which may seem best to the railway they have arrived at their destination sometimes five layers deep, with the bottom layer crushed? Will the Minister do all he can to expedite the use of vans with shelves, even if the shelves are only temporary?

Mr. Williams

If the hon. Member will give me any specific case of a shortage of vans I will gladly contact the Railway Executive.

Mr. Nally

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that even within this House the first three weeks of the strawberry season is a complete and unmitigated racket? Will he give us an assurance that whatever facilities may be needed to bring in cheap strawberries the approach to the problem of transport will be based on the fact that for at least three weeks of the strawberry season housewives and Members of Parliament are grossly exploited by having to pay high prices for inferior products?