HC Deb 28 July 1952 vol 504 cc1076-7
21. Mr. Osborne

asked the Minister of Food what information he has as to how much surplus sugar is available for purchase in Cuba; at what price it can be purchased; and what steps he has taken to purchase it.

Dr. Hill

The Cuban surplus is estimated at two million tons. The market price is about 4.20 cents per lb., but my right hon. and gallant Friend cannot buy more Cuban or other dollar sugar than we need to meet current consumption so long as our present balance of payments difficulties persist.

Mr. Osborne

May I ask the Minister two questions: First, what does 4.20 cents per lb. mean in shillings and pence and, secondly, what will be the total cost of this surplus sugar in English money, if we have the money available to buy it?

Dr. Hill

To interpret the cost in pounds per ton, it means a figure of £33 12s. Perhaps I might leave the rest of the arithmetic to my hon. Friend.

Mr. Foot

Will the hon. Gentleman give an assurance that his Department will make no agreement with Cuba which will interfere with the bulk purchase arrangements with the West Indies?

Dr. Hill

My right hon. and gallant Friend is alive to the need, as expressed in the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement, to expand production within the Commonwealth to the highest practical limit.

30. Mr. F. Willey

asked the Minister of Food why, in view of the fact that the imports of sugar for the first six months of this year are greater and the exports of sugar less than for the corresponding period last year, he cannot increase the allocation of sugar to manufacturers to avoid the waste of home-grown fruit.

Dr. Hill

As the hon. Member well knows, he should not draw inferences about our long-term supply position from retained imports over a short period. But manufacturers using fruit have been given extra sugar, and their purchases of fruit should not be restricted for this reason.

Mr. Wiley

While I agree with the Parliamentary Secretary that we must look ahead, may I ask if he does not realise that unless we use some of the sugar to conserve fruit, then, looking ahead, we may have the sugar but we shall not have the fruit? It would be better to have both the fruit and the sugar.

Dr. Hill

Of course I so realise, and if the hon. Gentleman will study the second half of the answer he will appreciate what is being done.

Colonel Gomme-Duncan

Is my hon. Friend aware that the extra 1 lb. of sugar has been given for the plum crop and that plums are not one of the main crops of Scotland, where other fruits are grown for which sugar is required just as much as the plum crop in England?

Dr. Hill

Nevertheless, I am sure that the additional 1 lb. of sugar for the plum crop is widely appreciated.

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