HC Deb 24 October 1952 vol 505 cc1530-46

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."—[Mr. Studholme.]

3.43 p.m.

Miss Elaine Burton (Coventry, South)

I make no apology for raising today in this House, for I think the fourth or fifth time, the question of the distribution of fish, fruit and vegetables and although I am sure that the Parliamentary Secretary would not say it in his remarks tonight, I should like to say to him, if he was thinking that when I raised this matter several times with the Government of which I was a supporter I did not get any satisfaction, I agree with him entirely. Being ever hopeful, I hope for something better on this, the fifth time.

This matter affects a great many people—growers and producers, wholesalers, retailers and consumers, and I think that the Parliamentary Secretary would agree that each and every one of those sections is as anxious for as good a system of distribution of these commodities as possible.

During the last 12 months I consider that we have had more examples than ever of the faulty distribution of fish, fruit and vegetables. It is not my job as a back bencher to advance detailed suggestions as to what should be done. I believe that is the province of a Minister, and this afternoon——

Lieut.-Colonel Marcus Lipton (Brixton)

It is very necessary, with this Government, that back benchers should do so.

Miss Burton

Well, I shall do my best. I believe that I can do the job best today if I deal with it from the commonsense angle and not from the theoretical angle, in spite of the interruption of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Brixton (Lieut.-Colonel Lipton).

In the past, when this matter has been raised, the answers received can be summed up under two heads and the Parliamentary Secretary himself is, I think, guilty of using both answers at one time or another. The first is that any inquiry into such distribution would mean a very long time beforehand for the necessary evidence to be obtained. The second answer is that it is not necessary to have any such inquiry, because all the evidence has already been obtained. That is being perfectly fair, and I would suggest that those answers cancel out each other.

If the first one is true—and I think most would agree that it is—and it would take a very long time to get the evidence for such an inquiry, I suggest to the Government that it is high time we started. The purpose of my raising this matter now is to ask the Government to make an immediate inquiry into the distribution of fish, fruit and vegetables. Alternatively, if the answer is that no such inquiry is necessary, because the evidence has been obtained—and I have heard that answer for about the past five years—I suggest that that evidence be published. Let the public see what are the difficulties and make suggestions as to what should be done.

I have wondered why it is that every Government of whatever political complexion is so very reluctant to deal with the distributors of these commodities. Why is there this tenderness towards these distributors? Certainly, I grant it would mean upsetting a great many people. But the growers and the producers tell us when this matter is raised that they cannot make a fair profit. The retailers advance as a reason for their very high prices that they have to make a charge to cover the cost of wastage which is unavoidable under this system.

The housewives know they have to pay for it every time, and I wish to stress that point. When there is a scarcity of any of these goods, the housewife pays with high prices. When there is a glut, that glut is not passed on to the housewife in the form of low prices. Most hon. Members would agree that there is not the slightest doubt that the one person who pays every time is the housewife.

The first point I wish to raise—and it is only the second time I have raised it in this House—is the very trying one of the rise in prices at the week-end. I have no hesitation at all in saying that this is a complete racket directed at people whose wages are paid on a Friday. I would ask the Parliamentary Secretary if he does his own shopping, or if not, that he ask his wife, to compare the prices of fresh fruit and vegetables on a Friday and Saturday with the prices charged on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

When this matter was raised in my own constituency, in Coventry, probably about 15 months ago, it had some effect for about a month. In the outlying districts where the housewives are supplied from carts which take round fruit and vegetables, the owners exhibited placards saying, "No price rise this weekend." We killed it in Coventry for about a month, but I regret to say that it is killed no longer.

I wish to be fair. I do not necessarily think it is a matter for the Government, but I should like the Government to take the lead in condemning it. I ask local organisations in every town or city to have a look at the matter for themselves. I believe that if housewives would notice which were the shops which put up the prices at week-ends, and would boycott those shops, we might get somewhere.

I recall to the Parliamentary Secretary—I do not know whether he has heard this story, but it is perfectly true—that when we had a very large meeting in Coventry on this matter, the best performance of the whole night was when a greengrocer who came on the platform, and who was very angry with me, said, "Of course prices do not go up at the week-ends, they go down on a Monday." Therefore, I leave it to the Parliamentary Secretary, and I hope that he will be able to condemn a practice which is a deliberate fleecing of the consumer.

Now, I want to spend some time on the subject of fish, and I know that it may not be a very happy one for the Parliamentary Secretary, because he had a rather unfortunate time last year when the matter of fish prices came up in this House. I hope I am not doing him an injustice if I say that it seemed to be the belief on the Government benches that it was not unreasonable that prices should go up when there was a considerable demand. We on this side of the House think it is unreasonable if there is, to match that demand, a considerable catch at the same time.

The point that I want to make first is this. I hope that the Parliamentary Secretary realises that the housewives are tired of high prices, varying prices and poor quality. What I think is the most annoying point of all is that these high prices are not always due to scarcity, but are due to a deliberate operation of taking advantage of the public, and I am going to give the Parliamentary Secretary some examples to prove it.

The Transport and General Workers' Union has proposed that there should be a reasonable minimum price fixed at the ports in order to give the trawler owners and the fishermen a fair profit, and that a reasonable maximum price should be fixed at the shops in order to give the retailer and consumer a fair deal. In Grimsby and Hull, which I should say are two of our main fishing ports—and I do not know if the Parliamentary Secretary is in possession of these figures—in May, 1952, at these two ports, 970,000 stones of fish were unsold and, in June, 1952, 530,000 stones were unsold. I should like to say straight away that this fish was not unsold because it was of poor quality. At this time the minimum port prices were 40s. per 10 stones for cod and 42s. per 10 stones for haddock, and so we can say that obviously, in these two months, at. Grimsby and Hull, the fish was not worth 4d. per lb. at the port. I want the Parliamentary Secretary to tell me why.

I want also to ask him whether he thinks that the consumers benefited by low prices. Surely, if the fish was not worth 4d. per lb. at the port, it must have been because the housewife was getting it for less than that. But that is not true; she was paying more than four times as much in the shops. If too much fish was being landed, then why did prices not fall? In fact, they did not fall.

At some ports, trawler owners have a minimum price agreed to among themselves, and I believe this is a bad system. Whether they fix low prices or high prices, I do not think the prices should be fixed by the trawler owners themselves. We find in this fishing industry today—and I do not think that the public realise this—that the trawler owners buy landings from themselves at prices fixed by themselves. Frequently, they then send these supplies to freezing plants, and hold them there until landings are scarce, and then release the fish when prices are high. I hope the Parliamentary Secretary has noticed all these points, because we should like answers to them.

That is why we want a maximum price at the shops to safeguard the consumer. So very often, in any chain of distribution, we find people selling to themselves at various stages, and these trawler owners at our big ports are shareholders in the fishmeal factories, as are the merchants as well. I do not know whether the Parliamentary Secretary has ever been to Grimsby, but I have, and I have seen the trawlers there bringing in the fish. I wonder whether the Parliamentary Secretary would agree with me that many of these trawler owners take the fish right through from the sea to the shops. That is all right, but they sell to themselves and reap a profit at every stage of those transactions. That is why the customers in the shop have to pay a great deal more than they ought.

The average difference between the port price and the shop price is £7 per cwt. I want the Parliamentary Secretary to tell me why. If he is thinking of saying that it is because of transport, I would point out to him that the average price of transport is a ½ a lb. It takes a lot of halfpennies to make £7. I want to know, and the consumers want to know, why perfectly good fish which is wanted by the housewife should be left at the port unsold.

Frequently in this House we ask a question and then provide the answer, and I should like to provide an answer or two for the Parliamentary Secretary. First of all, at many of these fishing ports the merchants get together and refuse to handle the catch. I wonder whether it has been brought to the notice of the Ministry of Food that fishmongers up and down the country state that trawler companies are responsible for keeping prices up. Rather than send large catches to the market and thus bring down prices, they send them to be turned into fish manure, because they themselves have interests in the fish manure factories.

One firm suggestion which I make is this: I think that the number of port wholesalers should be reduced to a reasonable figure. In Grimsby and Hull, close on a thousand of these people operate. Today, in Coventry skilled workers are being declared redundant, and I ask the Ministry of Food if there is any reason why surplus wholesalers should not also be declared redundant. In the wholesale distribution of fish, fruit and vegetables, I believe that if we could get rid of a lot of surplus wholesalers and make them redundant, our prices would fall considerably.

In asking for this inquiry, I want to stress once more that there should be a reasonable minimum price at the ports to give the trawler owners and fishermen a fair profit, and a reasonable maximum price fixed at the shops to give the customer and the retailer a fair price; and that the margin between those two prices should cover the whole of the middle men in this transaction. If the Parliamentary Secretary is not able to accept that suggestion, I hope he will give us some reasons why he cannot do so and will provide an alternative. I add a very strong rider to the effect that the number of port wholesalers has a very strong effect on the instability of prices. I recognise that if we have a minimum quality and a minimum price, there must be a scheme which will enforce that minimum quality; and that would have to be investigated.

Thirdly, dealing with fruit and vegetables, I do not think the Parliamentary Secretary would disagree that in the distribution of fruit and vegetables we have distribution chaos and economics run mad. I expect the House will remember that in August we had a potato shortage. In this matter, as in all others, there was one certain loser—the housewife; she loses right through these transactions. Last July some of the leading potato growers said that the selfishness of some of them, in trying to sell their crops and get the top price before price control was introduced on 1st August, was responsible for this potato shortage. Indeed, a spokesman of the Retail Fruit Trade Federation said that——

It being Four o'Clock, the Motion for the Adjournment of the House lapsed, without Question put.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."—[Mr. Studholme.]

Miss Burton

A spokesman of the Retail Fruit Trade Federation said that it was the greed of certain growers in murdering their potato crop in July which led to the shortage in August, because the potatoes were not fully grown and the public suffered. So in the case of potatoes we had the growers being blamed.

I now come to plums. I think everybody in the House will remember the glut of plums this year. It was rather unfortunate that earlier this week the Minister of Agriculture had to tell us that one-third of the plum crop was unsold this year. Although we had this heavy plum crop, it did not pay the growers to pick the plums and send them to market. I remember that the Parliamentary Secretary was asked in the House whether this fruit could be pulped for future jam making. He knows, as we all know, that the pulp lasts for three or four years, but the answer we got was that the Government could not undertake this pulping. During the war years we succeeded in absorbing all the crops of fruit. We now have one-third of the plum crop unsold, and we are told that we are in a bad economic position. To those of us who are not economists this just does not make sense, and I do not imagine that it makes sense to the Parliamentary Secretary either.

I come now to cherries. Many growers of cherries wrote to me from different parts of the country in great indignation. They were blaming the retailers, and they wanted to know why it was that retailers should sell cherries at the fantastic price of 1s. 6d. a lb. when these same retailers had bought the cherries for 3d. a lb. from them. The writer of one postcard which I got, a very irate postcard, thought the greengrocer should be shot for charging that price.

I now deal with bananas. On Thursday, 2nd October, bananas from Jamaica reached the Royal Albert Docks, and instead of being green they were ready for eating. Now, I want to be fair about this matter, and I should like to tell the Parliamentary Secretary that I have not gone into it in detail. He may have a perfectly good reason to give me for this, but I have not seen the reason published.

The regulations are that bananas must be green when they reach this country so that they ripen by the time they reach the shops. Already this year we have had more than 80 tons condemned as unfit for eating. At the time these bananas reached the Royal Albert Docks, suggestions were made by the dockers and by organisations that the bananas should be moved speedily, either to nearby hospitals or to schools for children. But no; the distribution system was quite incapable of dealing with them, and the bananas went for pig feed. Whether there is a reason for it or not, the dockers, the organisations and the public blame the system.

My last point concerns eggs—and it is not "black market" eggs. It averages one week for an egg to leave a Danish hen and reach a British shop, and I ask the Parliamentary Secretary why, if it only takes one week to cover all that distance, it should take a fortnight longer for a good many eggs to leave a British hen and reach the British shop which is nearby. I hope he will be able to answer that.

I contend that the British housewife has made her case over this matter. Whether it is fish, fruit or vegetables, she loses every time. It is the wish, I think, of hon. Members on both sides of the House—I am not blaming only this Government; I blamed my own Government in the past—that this matter of distribution shall be looked into so that the chain of distribution is as short as possible, and so that the housewife is offered goods at a fair price and the retailers and producers receive a fair reward for their labours. I hope the Parliamentary Secretary will not have to emulate Mr. Vyshinsky, but will give us an answer this time.

4.5 p.m.

Major H. Legge-Bourke (Isle of Ely)

The hon. Lady the Member for Coventry, South (Miss Burton) has, I think, built up quite a reputation for herself in this House by proclaiming the indignation of the housewife for any injustice which she considers has been done to her by producers, wholesalers or retailers. Certainly, today the hon. Lady has embodied in her speech a great expression of indignation on many fronts.

I shall not try to follow all of them, but I should like to say, first, one or two words about wholesalers in general, whether in respect of fish, fruit and vegetables or any other commodity. I do not believe that the wholesaler simply sprang up for the fun of it. I believe that he sprang up as the result of a need realised by retailers, consumers and producers, and I think one can say that the wholesalers come in for abuse from opposite ends of that chain, according to whether there is a surplus or a scarcity of supply.

If there is a scarcity, then, obviously, it is easier for the producer to sell direct, and the fact that the wholesaler exists automatically causes a good deal of indignation from the consumer. On the other hand, if there is a surplus of supply of various commodities, the wholesaler may seem to push up the price unnecessarily to the consumer; but we cannot deal with any of these problems without considering both the point of view of the producer and that of the consumer.

I think that the producer himself would be the first to say that the consumer's interest must be first in his mind because what he is producing can only bring him in some return if it satisfies the consumer. We cannot, however, lay down one particular dogma about the evil or the good of either the wholesaler or the retailer without having regard to the variations which take place in the particular trades to which the hon. Lady has referred today.

I think that all of us who have tried to investigate matters concerning both the fish market and the fruit and vegetable market realise that they are immensely complicated, and that one cannot generalise even between all the soft fruits and all the other produce. Each has its own particular profits, and in each case the producer, the retailer and the consumer all have conflicting interests.

On the subject of fish, I do not pretend to be an expert, but I have had something to do with trying to promote the white fish industry in other parts of the world and in this country. In this particular industry, I have seen fish arriving at Hull in the morning, and one thing which has embedded itself in my mind is that the number of days at sea and the size of the catch each day are both factors which weigh enormously in deciding the eventual price to be charged for the fish. To say that there is a landing of a certain tonnage pays no regard at all to the cost of getting that tonnage through the port.

This, again, is an essentially technical problem, and I do not believe that we in this House are fully qualified to go into all the pros and cons of it. It raises a much greater issue, which I do not think I should be in order to discuss today, as to whether we in this House have the knowledge to deal with all these vast industrial problems. The only hon. Member who has produced any constructive thought on that matter is my hon. Friend the Member for Devizes (Mr. Hollis), who suggested that we should have another House of Parliament altogether to deal with these matters.

The hon. Lady mentioned plums. It is true that an enormous quantity of plums are never picked. You, Mr. Speaker, will know, from the part of the world you represent in this House, the tragedy that has happened in that area very close to your constituency in the Vale of Evesham where, in past years, vast quantities of plums have been left to rot on the trees. So it is in my constituency in the Isle of Ely, and the same thing applies in North Cambridgeshire. When we have a glut it always happens that a certain amount of fruit is never picked, let alone marketed.

Rather than altering the wholesaler-retailer-producer set-up, the answer lies in the fruit-growing industry itself encouraging its members not to grow fruit which ought never to have been marketed because it is so bad. If we can encourage growers to root out their old trees and put their land down to growing crops which are necessary for the country we may get somewhere.

I believe that the real answer to all the problems raised by the hon. Lady lies fundamentally in the hands of the housewives. The vast majority of people buy their fruit absolutely blindly. There is a kind of price snobbery in buying vegetables and fruit. Just because something is priced as slightly more expensive than something else some people who can afford it will buy it without considering whether it is really a better buy. Hon. Members may have heard about the experiment in which two identical lettuces were placed in a greengrocer's shop window and one was priced 6d. more than the other. The vast majority of the housewives who came along bought the more expensive one merely because they thought it should be better as it was priced higher.

The answer to all these problems is that shoppers should be far more discriminating than they are. War-time is always a bad time for discrimination. In time of war when there is real scarcity of many things which are greatly desired, people automatically buy whatever is offered after they have waited two hours in a queue. We are now gradually moving into a situation where there is an opportunity for proper selection and for proper judgment as to whether quality is good enough or not. The answer to most of the hon. Lady's problems lies in encouraging shoppers, for horticultural produce or anything else, to use their own judgment as to whether or not they are getting value for money.

This country is crying out for value for money in Government expenditure. Let everyone who goes into the shops adopt the same attitude. Human nature being what it is, if the eventual consumer gives someone an opportunity to make money out of him as the result of his complete inability or unwillingness to judge for himself, advantage will be taken of that opportunity every time it is offered. Although no system is perfect and no one group of individuals is always perfect, there is a great deal of room for improvement in discrimination in this matter.

The hon. Lady has raised many valuable points and I do not want to delay the reply of the Parliamentary Secretary. However, I hope that he will not be rushed into enforcing on the whole of the horticultural industry an inquiry which will disorganise it and will result in the suffering of the eventual consumer. I believe that my hon. Friend well knows that all the problems raised this afternoon are highly technical and require most careful technical consideration before conclusions are arrived at. I beg him not to rush into any broad inquiry which will undermine the confidence of the trade and, by so doing, also undermine the whole service which the industry renders to the eventual consumer.

4.14 p.m.

Lieut.-Colonel Marcus Lipton (Brixton)

I am sure that there is no danger whatever of the Parliamentary Secretary rushing into anything. Many of the fears expressed by the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for the Isle of Ely (Major Legge-Bourke) about what he might do seem to be quite unfounded and to have as little relevance to the matter we are now discussing as many of his other remarks. He said that the situation is extremely difficult and complicated. He had no suggestion to make except that the housewives should exercise a little more discrimination and not pay snob prices for the goods which they see in the shops.

I should imagine that the Parliamentary Secretary knows Brixton fairly well, and I think he would agree that although price snobbery may exist in the Isle of Ely it certainly does not exist in Brixton, either on ordinary week days or at weekends. The price snobbery to which the hon. and gallant Member refers may apply to some parts of the country, but not to the kind of areas which are known to my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, South (Miss Burton), the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food and myself.

We are anxious to hear what the Parliamentary Secretary has to say. I am perhaps even more anxious than hon. Members who support him in this House, but to prevent him from making any fatal mistake I would remind him of what his Leader, the Prime Minister, said in the manifesto of the Conservative and Unionist Party issued in connection with the General Election of 1951. I will quote a sentence from that manifesto and I hope that the Parliamentary Secretary will fit himself into the context and say something on the subject, which is very relevant to the point which was raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, South.

This manifesto bears the signature of the Prime Minister and is, therefore, of greater importance than the usual printed matter circulated by the Conservative Central Office. It says: Farmers and merchants should work together to improve distribution in the interests of the public. I should like to know—as, I am sure, my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, South would—what the Government have done since October, 1951, to encourage farmers and merchants to work together to improve distribution in the interests of the public. If something, however small, were done along those lines it would help to narrow what to the ordinary person seems to be an excessive difference between what the primary producer receives and what the unfortunate housewives—even more unfortunate after 12 months of Tory rule than they were before—have to pay.

I put that specific question to the Parliamentary Secretary, because there are housewives in Brixton who ask me what the Government are doing about it, and I am unable to tell them. Some of them are Conservatives—though their numbers are dwindling as time goes on—but all the housewives would like to know what the Government are doing and I hope that the Parliamentary Secretary will be able to give us some information on the subject.

4.18 p.m.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food (Dr. Charles Hill)

The hon. Lady has raised this matter in Adjournment debates on four occasions. Whatever we may think of the criticisms she has made on those occasions, we can congratulate her on her vigour and persistence in directing public attention to what is admittedly an important matter.

I propose to deal with her points and arguments with the seriousness they deserve, because we do want to satisfy ourselves that the distribution chain is neither longer nor more expensive than it need be and that no unnecessarily high margin exists between what is paid to the grower and what is paid by the consumer.

In a short and lively examination of the problem like this, however, we are in great danger of seeming to suggest that distribution is relatively unimportant and inexpensive. In comparing the price paid to the grower and that paid by the consumer we are apt to forget—and lead others to forget—the immense cost of the distributive process and the very considerable difficulties that are involved in it.

On the subject of fish, the hon. Lady referred to the need for economy and put forward two alternatives. She spoke of the proposals of the Transport and General Workers' Union, which were, in effect, price control proposals, not necessarily of the old kind but involving price control to a limited extent. Without going into details let me say that the White Fish Authority, the body charged by this House with responsibility in the field of distribution, is at present undertaking an investigation into distributive costs. We must regard it as a necessary and important step to examine thoroughly and scientifically the costs incurred before passing judgment on the method, character, or expense of the distributive process.

I was proposing to say something in general about price control being wholly inappropriate as applied to fish, and leading, in our experience, to loss of incentive and quality and to conditions adverse to the consumer. But the essence of my reply to the hon. Lady is that inquiry into distributive costs is proceeding. When the fruits of that inquiry are available will be the time to consider what faults have been found, what steps should be taken, and what unnecessary distributive links or costs exist or are incurred.

The hon. Lady then passed to her old friends fruit and vegetables. Indeed, she managed to include eggs in the category, in order to get something off her chest that she might otherwise have raised on some other occasion. We must get clear what we believe the nature of the distributive costs problem to be. The hon. Lady has often spoken as though there were profiteering. She did not do so today, but she has spoken as if somewhere the grower, the wholesaler or the retailer is wickedly profiteering. I think she would agree that whatever suspicions she may have there is no evidence of that. One would hardly stand up in this House and speak of excessive incomes being enjoyed by those in the horticultural industry—nor by wholesalers—who sell, she knows, on a commission basis—nor by the retailers. There is no general evidence, in so far as there can be such, of profiteering.

Our difficulty—the hon. Lady has referred to this on other occasions—in examining this chain of distribution to compare like with like and to be certain that the commodity whose price on sale by the grower is being considered is the same commodity, of the same quality, as it passes down the chain and suffers price increases on the way. I expected that the hon. Lady would refer to the specific inquiry made by my predecessor into this matter, the fruits of which have not been published because it was thought that the 47 transactions which were studied afforded too poor and insufficient a statistical basis for drawing inferences.

I have been examining the report and find that in the particular transactions followed through, if 100 be taken as the grower's price, in the case of green peas, Kent grown, the retail price is 158, in that of green peas, Worcester grown, 174, and in that of lettuce, 188. I mention these figures in order to reduce to its proper perspective the size of this distributive margin, and bearing in mind the figure of 400 to 700 per cent. which the hon. Lady has used in the past.

Now let us look at the problem at the grower's end. This is important not only in relation to competition with imports, but throughout the whole distributive process. It is welcome news that more and more importance is being attached to it by the growers. There should be good grading, bulking, co-operative marketing and market intelligence available to growers. Let us remember that there are between 70,000 and 90,000 growers, about half of them with between five and 10 acres and that all that produce has to find its way to market. It is desirable that growers should have as an objective such a standard of selection and packaging, such a system of recognisable marks, that much of the journeying through markets which now takes place is avoided and business conducted instead by telephone.

There is no time to refer to the markets and their means of transport and siting. At the retail level there is a problem. The hon. Lady referred, perhaps lightly, to the elements that go into the retailer's margin, the elements of perishability, variable consumer choice, admixture of earth with products, transport, wages and the like. She referred to the tendency not to follow the market, but to adopt a retail price that does not vary up and down with the market price, not to buy large quantities and sell cheap. To the extent to which that tendency exists—and it cannot be denied that in some quarters it does exist—it may be an element of human nature and if so no horticultural commission, nothing the Government can do will alter it. I was glad that in an earlier treatment of this subject the hon. Lady referred to the need to draw public attention to such a problem where it may exist.

I am hurrying because time is short, perhaps because of the help given by the hon. and gallant Member for Brixton (Lieut.-Colonel Lipton). The bananas which were referred to were bad when they arrived. It was decided to place them in the only place reasonable in the circumstances. They were not fit for youthful stomachs, so no steps were taken to distribute them to the children in the vicinity of the dockyard.

The hon. Lady also referred to plums, and my hon. and gallant Friend said what can reasonably be said on that subject. It does not follow that, because nature is abundant, human appetite for plums will be proportionately greater, whatever may be the price and whatever may be the distribution. There is not necessarily a relationship between the bounty of nature and human appetite for it.

Time prevents me from tracing the course of the egg via the packing station, but that no doubt can be dealt with at another time.

The Question having been proposed at Four o'Clock, and the debate having continued for half an hour. Mr. SPEAKER adjourned the House without Question put, pursuant to the Standing Order.

Adjourned at Half-past Four o'Clock.