HC Deb 10 December 1973 vol 866 cc27-8
22. Mrs. Doris Fisher

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what recent discussions he has held with bottle manufacturers.

Mr. Chataway

We are in constant touch with the glass manufacturers' federation, which represents glass container manufacturers, about the bottle supply situation, and are urgently considering its representations about fuel oil supplies.

Mrs. Fisher

is it not absurd for the situation concerning non-returnable bottles to be allowed to continue when, over Christmas, we might find the essential distribution of milk severely restricted? What does the Minister intend to do about the production of non-returnable bottles?

Mr. Chataway

I bear in mind the point made by the hon. Member. However, she will appreciate that at short notice it is not possible to alter production lines. She must remember that the industry is heavily dependent upon fuel oil.

Mr. Fortescue

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the use of glass bottles in the food industry goes far beyond whisky and milk? Will he give an assurance that fuel supplies for the manufacture of glass bottles will be given the utmost priority?

Mr. Chataway

We shall certainly consider carefully the industry's claims for fuel.

Mr. Alan Williams

What representations are the Government making to the supermarkets to reverse those policies which have deliberately killed the market for returnable bottles? Does the Minister not realise that bottles are not the only form of container and package now becoming scarce? Did he see the report, in The Times Business News today, of panic buying and of suppliers rationing goods to the retailers? What action are the Government taking now to ensure a continuity of supplies of tinned and bottled foodstuffs to the shops?

Mr. Chataway

The hon. Gentleman goes a good deal wider than the Question asked by the hon. Member for Birmingham, Ladywood (Mrs. Doris Fisher). With regard to glass manufacturers, we are considering the specific point which the hon. Gentleman raises.