HC Deb 22 November 1939 vol 353 cc1249-51W
Mr. R. Morgan

asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (1) whether, in view of the fact that there was cold-storage space available for some 250,000 tons of butter in this country before the outbreak of war, he can state why steps were not taken earlier to make use of it; and whether action is now to be taken to remedy the omission;

(2) whether he will reconsider the desirability of obtaining and placing in cold storage a large quantity of butter, having regard to the fact that his objection that such cold storage would cost some £10 per ton per annum means an additional cost in the case of the butter concerned of less than 1d. per pound and that large numbers of people in this country would gladly pay such extra price in order to be sure of adequate supplies?

Major Milner

asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster whether he is aware that butter can be stored in bulk for periods up to 12 months and bacon up to three months; and why, in these circumstances, no adequate arrangements for such storage were made before the outbreak of war?

Mr. W. S. Morrison

I have already informed the House why a reserve of butter and bacon was not accumulated by the Government before the war and the reasons for accumulating a reserve of the raw material of margarine instead of butter. The Government's policy will be to maintain the movement of butter into consumption at as steady a level as possible and in order to achieve this purpose it is hoped to build up a reserve which will, naturally, vary from time to time in accordance with variation in the situation.

Mr. Jenkins

asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what is the cost per hundredweight paid to No. 1 suppliers of butter; and whether he will consider discontinuing the expenditure thus incurred?

Mr. W. S. Morrison

The commission allowed to No. 1 Suppliers, for butter distributed by them as agents for the Ministry of Food, is at the rate of 2 per cent., or equivalent to approximately 2s. 11d. per hundredweight. With regard to the second part of the question, the answer is in the negative.

Mr. Lewis

asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster whether he will consider the advisability, while maintaining the present price limits for imported butter, of allowing a higher price for home-produced butter with a view to stimulating its production?

Mr. W. S. Morrison

I presume my hon. Friend refers particularly to farmhouse butter, and I am considering whether such action as he suggests would be advisable. I would, however, point out that there are great difficulties of practical administration.