HC Deb 01 May 1950 vol 474 cc157-8W
87. Mr. A. Lewis

asked the Minister of Food if he is aware of the exhorbitant prices now being charged for fruit and vegetables; and what action he proposes to take to bring these to an end and thus assist the housewife to purchase these necessities.

90. Mr. Viant

asked the Minister of Food if he is aware that on 27th April, in the Spitalfield Market, the sum of 28s. was being charged for a bag of 30 lb. of spring greens, and similar high prices for other vegetables; if he is satisfied that such prices are justified; and, if not, if he will arrange for an investigation to be held, with a view to the fixing of reasonable prices for vegetables.

Mr. Webb

I do not think fruit prices are too high for the time of year, but I know that some vegetables are very dear at present. This is because we are, in any case, between seasons; and supplies are even scarcer than usual because of last summer's drought. For instance, I am told that the quantity of home-grown cauliflowers, winter cabbages and savoys marketed in April this year will be only about 26,000 tons against some 48,000 tons in April, 1949. Price control would not produce any more vegetables, and might indeed reduce imports, while the supplies we have would probably go under the counter. I must tell the House, quite frankly, that there is no quick expedient or short-term solution of this problem of the prices of perishables. Buyers' resistance to unreasonable prices is the only effective means at our disposal, pending the outcome of our longterm policy for the reorganisation of fruit and vegetable marketing.

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