HC Deb 10 May 1954 vol 527 cc843-4
29. Mr. Dodds

asked the Minister of Food if a decision has yet been taken about purchasing surplus stocks of Californian tinned fruit.

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

About $2,500,000 worth of Californian canned apricots and peaches have been purchased under Section 550 of the Mutual Security Act.

Mr. Dodds

As these surplus goods were bought at rock bottom prices, will the hon. Gentleman state whether they are being passed over to the housewife at reduced prices? If not, will he kindly say why not?

Dr. Hill

These fruits were bought on the open market at a reasonable price, and they will be sold to the public at a reasonable price.

Commander Donaldson

What amount of dollars has been spent on the purchase of Canadian fruit at comparable prices?

Dr. Hill

Discussions are now proceeding about the purchase of some Canadian fruit, but I cannot say more than that at the moment.

Mr. Nabarro

Will my hon. Friend make it clear that this transaction was conducted in sterling and that his reference to 2½million American dollars relates only to the current American market price, and that this country will, in fact, pay for these goods only in sterling?

Dr. Hill

My hon. Friend is quite right. No dollar expenditure is involved. Indeed, as the sterling expenditure is counted against existing defence expenditure, it is virtually a gift from the United States.