As the reply contains a number of figures, I will, with the hon. Member's permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.
§ Mr. Lewis
Is the Minister aware that it has been reported that a number of retailers are stocking up with tea at the subsidised price ready to sell at the unsubsidised price, and making 4d. a lb. profit at the State's expense? Will he put a stop to that and see that it does not occur when he removes the subsidies from other foods—which, incidentally, I hope he will not do?
Care has been taken to prevent what the hon. Gentleman has stated to have occurred. The supply of tea going into the shops prior to the increase in price was exactly the same as at normal times. There is no excuse for citizens being unable to obtain their tea ration.
§ Mr. Lewis
That reply is contradictory to the Minister's former reply. If there are, as he states, a number of facts and figures for supplementary permits, they mean that he has issued supplementary permits, and that means that additional supplies of tea are going in. Will he see that that is stopped?
The supplementary permit is a part of the normal distribution machinery, which has not been departed from in recent weeks.
§ Following is the reply:
§ Supplementary permits are issued locally, and the only figures available centrally relate to amounts of tea later purchased under such permits. From 23rd March to 19th April, returns of these purchases totalled 724,000 lb.; from 20th April to 17th May, 1,615,000 lb., and from 18th May to 14th June. 1,231,000 lb.