HC Deb 16 March 1953 vol 512 cc1799-801
9. Mr. Keenan

asked the Minister of Food if he has been informed of the shortage of sweets supplied in the Merseyside area and that, as stated by the wholesale representatives, an increase in prices of sweets will regulate the sales in future; and whether he will take the necessary steps to prevent the manufacturers and traders increasing the price of sweets because of the shortage.

14. Lieut.-Colonel Lipton

asked the Minister of Food whether he is aware that supplies of sweets to small shops in South London are inadequate and that wholesalers are having to operate their own system of rationing supplies; and whether he will reimpose control.

8. Mrs. Braddock

asked the Minister of Food if he is aware that there are no sweets and chocolates in many wholesale warehouses in Liverpool to replace the abnormal demand at retail shops; and what immediate steps he is taking to prevent a shortage.

Major Lloyd George

I have made special inquiries in these areas. They do not bear out any suggestion of a general shortage. Some price increases would probably have been necessary if control had continued. I have no intention of reimposing control.

Mr. Keenan

Is the right hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that last Monday in the Liverpool Press, which covers the whole of Merseyside and elsewhere, it was admitted by two wholesalers that they were short and that their stocks had run down? Is he aware that last week I checked with two firms, Edmundson's and Williams's, and they had actually increased the price of their sweets by Id. a quarter—4d. a lb.? Is not that robbing the children? What does the right hon. and gallant Gentleman propose to do about it?

Major Lloyd George

I do not know what the hon. Gentleman means by the last part of his Question. If this is robbing the children, we will not be half so successful as were hon. Gentlemen opposite when they were in power. While there may be shortages of certain lines, as indeed there were during control and even before the war, the position is as I have stated.

Lieut.-Colonel Lipton

But has the right hon. and gallant Gentleman seen a statement by the President of the National Union of Small Shopkeepers that manufacturers and wholesalers are deliberately withholding supplies while they await the price increases that everybody knows are on the way?

Major Lloyd George

Inquiries have been made in the three constituencies represented by the hon. Members who put down the Questions, and the facts are as I have stated.

Mr. Burden

Would not my right hon. and gallant Friend agree that the best way in which hon. Members could satisfy themselves on this question would be for them to go out and try to buy sweets, when I am sure that they would find no shortage?

Mr. Marlowe

On a point of order. There have been three Questions on the Order Paper which have contained the affirmative statement that there is a serious shortage of sweets Is not every hon. Member responsible for the accuracy of the Questions he puts upon the Order Paper? One hon. Lady has not arrived at all to ask her Question. There is an increasing tendency to use the Order Paper for party propaganda. May I ask you to rule, Mr. Speaker, whether or not hon. Members are responsible for the accuracy of their statements?

Mr. Speaker

I have frequently ruled in that sense, but there are often disputes as to facts.

22. Sir L. Ropner

asked the Minister of Food to what extent the demand for sweets has increased since they were de-rationed.

11. Mr. Osborne

asked the Minister of Food what increase there has been in the demand for, or shortage of, sweets since they were de-controlled.

Major Lloyd George

No precise estimates can be made, but I am satisfied that any suggestion of a general shortage is unfounded.