HC Deb 01 February 1954 vol 523 cc7-9
8. Mr. Willey

asked the Minister of Food whether he will institute an inquiry into the operation of the system of the payment of cash allowances to egg packing stations.

Major Lloyd George

No, Sir.

Mr. Willey

I do not want to be unduly critical of the Minister's failure, but ought he not to explain to his own back benchers how he has abolished food subsidy on eggs by doubling it? He ought to explain how the cash payment to the wholesalers, which was 3s. in September, became 13s. in December. He ought to explain how this cash allowance is still being paid when the profit margins of the wholesalers are bigger than they have ever been before.

Major Lloyd George

The hon. Gentleman, as usual, is slightly exaggerating the case. The costs to the packing stations of collection and delivery and the like come to ⅛d., and the wholesalers' margin is just under ¼d.

Mr. Willey

Has the right hon. and gallant Gentleman considered what the grocers have had to say about how the wholesalers' margins have increased, and how they get the cash allowance, while the grocers' margins have been squeezed?

10. Sir W. Smithers

asked the Minister of Food if he has considered details, which have been sent to him, about the retailing of eggs; and when he will take off all restrictions.

Major Lloyd George

Yes, Sir, and no doubt my hon. Friend has now received the letter which I have sent him. Current regulations affecting the retailing of eggs are among the matters now under discussion between the Government and the National Farmers' Unions. I cannot anticipate the form of the permanent arrangements for the marketing of eggs which will emerge from these discussions.

Sir W. Smithers

How much longer will my right hon. and gallant Friend continue to try to do the impossible by trying to overcome the law of supply and demand?

13. Mr. Crouch

asked the Minister of Food the number of eggs imported in long hundreds, during the last six months of 1952 and 1953; how many were Empire produced: and how many foreign.

Major Lloyd George

The total numbers of eggs imported during the last six months of 1952 and 1953 were 5,842,700 and 6,708,300 long hundreds respectively. Of these 2,099,300 and 2,078,700 long hundreds, respectively, were Commonwealth produced and 3,743,400 and 4,629,600 long hundreds were foreign.

Mr. Crouch

Have all the eggs which we have been importing been sold, or has the Department some in reserve?

Major Lloyd George

There has been a smaller proportion of imported eggs sold.

Mrs. Mann

Would the Minister explain this for our guidance? We are familiar with the Old Hundredth, but what are "long hundreds"?

Major Lloyd George

A long hundred is 120.

24. Mr. Holt

asked the Minister of Food if he will give an estimate of how many million dozen shell eggs were produced in the United Kingdom in the months of October, November and December, 1953; and the proportion which went through the licensed packing stations each month.

Major Lloyd George

Through packing stations in this period 93.6 million dozen eggs were sold. But I regret information is not available as to home-produced eggs disposed of otherwise.

25. Mr. Holt

asked the Minister of Food what the guaranteed price for eggs cost his Department during each month, October, November and December, 1953.

Major Lloyd George

Approximately £0.8 million in October, £0.6 million in November, and £2.5 million in December, 1953.

Mr. Holt

In view of the likelihood of an increasing proportion going to the packing stations this year, would the right hon. and gallant Gentleman use his influence with the Ministry of Agriculture to see that the guaranteed price is progressively lowered?

Major Lloyd George

The prices are decided at reviews which are held annually, and all these things are taken into consideration. The next review is to take place very shortly.