HC Deb 07 April 1952 vol 498 cc2257-8
1. Mr. Frederick Willey

asked the Minister of Food whether, in view of the increased supplies he has received, he will now increase the tea ration.

The Minister of Food (Major Lloyd George)

I cannot at present add to the reply given on 3rd March to the hon. Member for Swindon (Mr. T. Reid).

Mr. Willey

Does the right hon. and gallant Gentleman realise that his reply will be quite shocking to the housewives of the country? Is it not quite clear from the Trade and Navigation Returns, that the stocks are there and that what he is doing is witholding the stocks until he can increase the price?

Major Lloyd George

That is not in accordance with the position, and the hon. Gentleman should surely know it. The fact is that world production is increasing very slowly and, whatever we did in regard to rationing stocks have to be built up.

Mr. Willey

Is it not a fact that we had 100 million lb. more tea than last year?

Major Lloyd George

As a matter of fact, according to the Trade and Navigation Returns, 1950 was one of the worst years we ever had, and last year was worse than 1949.

Mrs. E. M. Braddock

Is the right hon. and gallant Gentleman waiting until he raises the price so that people will be unable to buy tea and he can take it off the ration altogether?

Mr. Willey

In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the reply, I beg to give notice that I shall raise the matter on the Adjournment.

18. Mr. William Hamilton

asked the Minister of Food the reasons for the complete abolition of the subsidy on tea.

Major Lloyd George

I cannot at present add to what I said in the course of my reply to the Question by the hon. Member on 31st March.

Mr. Hamilton

Does the Minister realise that the policy of the abolition of the tea subsidy hits hardest the lower income groups, particularly old age pensioners living alone, and in view of that would he reconsider the matter?

Mr. George Chetwynd

Would the right hon. and gallant Gentleman consider introducing a similar scheme to that for supplying cigarettes and tobacco to the old people, whereby they might get tea at a cheaper price?

Major Lloyd George

The purpose of the alteration in old age pension rates was to meet these very circumstances.