HC Deb 20 January 1942 vol 377 cc217-8W
Mr. Roston Duckworth

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food the tonnage of fresh fish landed in this country in each of the last six weeks to date; and whether there is any means of tracing its distribution, in view of the fact that little of it reaches the fish friers who cater expressly for industrial districts?

Major Lloyd George

It would not be in the national interest to publish statistics of fish landed in war time and I regret that I cannot give the figures required. Fish is allocated at the ports of landing to first-hand buyers who are mainly coastal merchants, but I have no details as to the quantities reaching fish friers.

Major Milner

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food whether he is aware that some fish friers have had no fish since mid-December and that many are closing down as a result; whether, to provide this food for the populous districts, he will ascertain whether this is in part due to the fact that fish friers buy at the same prices as fishmongers and the wholesale fish market finds it more profitable to sell to the ordinary caterers; and what action it is proposed to take in the matter?

Major Lloyd George

I understand that some fish friers have received little or no fish for several weeks. Where this has been due to inequitable distribution by the wholesaler and the facts have been given, my Department have been able to take appropriate action. I regret that there is not nearly enough fish being landed at present to meet retailers' and friers' requirements. In reply to the last part of my hon. Friend's Question a scheme for improving fish distribution is now being prepared with the object of remedying existing inequalities of supply.

Mr. J. Dugdale

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food the quantity of fish available for sale in the following markets during the last week for which figures are available: Birmingham, Leeds, Bradford and Sheffield; and whether he is satisfied that this represents a fair distribution?

Major Lloyd George

I regret that the information is not available. The figures required would not provide any guide as to fairness of distribution, which is made direct from the coast to retailers and fish friers as well as through markets. My Department is at present engaged in preparing a scheme calculated to secure as equitable a distribution of available fish supplies as is possible.

Mr. Henderson Stewart

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food the percentage of the fresh salted cod bought from Iceland which the Ministry has already disposed of; and what was the original price per ton?

Major Lloyd George

Sales during the 12 weeks ended 26th December, 1941, of Icelandic wet salted cod imported on the Ministry's account represented 40 per cent. of the quantity arrived in this country by that date, of which only 46 per cent. had then been prepared ready for sale. The purchase price for the bulk of the supply is £35 per metric ton f.o.b. Iceland.