HC Deb 16 July 1952 vol 503 cc2127-8
16. Miss Burton

asked the Minister of Food whether he is aware that the price of fish is still high in the shops although more than 200,000 stones have been sent for processing into cattle food and manure in the past week because trawler owners say demand has fallen; and what action is proposed by the Government to curb distributive costs resulting in cod averaging 1s. 6d. to 2s. per 1b. at inland shops on 9th July, compared with 4d. per lb. at the quayside and haddock 1s. 10d. per lb. as against 6½d.

Major Lloyd George

Heavy landings of second quality fish and slack demand during hot weather have led to extensive use of cod for processing. But the prices quoted by the hon. Member are not representative.

Miss Burton

Would the right hon. and gallant Gentleman give me an answer to the part of the Question which asks what action the Government are proposing to take about distributive costs? Furthermore, is he aware that the Transport and General Workers' Union have suggested that there should be a minimum price fixed on the quayside, a maximum price in shops, and that the difference between the two prices should provide the middleman's overheads? Will he look into that suggestion if the union send it to him?

Major Lloyd George

I shall look into any suggestion, because nobody would suggest that the scheme of distribution is a perfect one. However, there were special difficulties in the period to which the hon. Lady has referred. There was particularly hot weather, as she knows. If she will look at the figures, which I should gladly show her, she will see that in the similar period last year we also had this difficult position. It is very difficult to dissociate that from the exceptionally hot weather we had recently.

Air Commodore Harvey

Why is my right hon. and gallant Friend following the practice of the previous Administration and allowing foreign trawlers to bring large quantities of fish here in hot weather so that much of the fish brought in by our own men is used only for meal? When will the White Fish Authority get down to the job and tackle it as it ought to do?

Major Lloyd George

I think that my hon. and gallant Friend will find, if he looks into the matter, that there has been very little difference between this year and last year.

Mr. Hector Hughes

Is the Minister aware that the high price of fish is due very largely to the high cost of transport, and will he consult with the White Fish Authority, which is considering a flat rate for transport, with a view to expediting the implementation of a flat rate?

Major Lloyd George

I think the hon. and learned Gentleman realises that that question was remitted to the Railway Executive for close examination, and that it is still under examination at the moment.