HC Deb 12 December 1957 vol 579 cc150-1W
76. Sir I. Horobin

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what are the latest figures available of the food consumption of old-age pensioners corresponding to those given by his predecessor on 15th November, 1954.

Mr. Godber

The following is the information:

into consumption. Neither the total cost of the guarantee nor the unusable surplus constitute any evidence of extravagance on the part of the Potato Marketing Board. Nevertheless, my right hon. Friend does not claim that the present scheme is perfection. Discussions with the farmers' unions about alterations in the system of implementing the guarantee for potatoes are due to begin next week.

79. Mr. Baldwin

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what acreage of potatoes he estimates to be necessary to produce a sufficient supply in a season of normal weather conditions.

Mr. Godber

The total quantity of potatoes used for human consumption in 1956 is estimated at about 4,700,000 tons. On this basis and after making allowance for seed, for potatoes used on farms and waste, a crop of normal weight and quality from 800,000 acres would yield sufficient potatoes for human consumption assuming normal seasonal imports of new potatoes. But human consumption has been declining and average yields increasing in recent years and these trends may continue.

82. Mr. Hurd

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what arrangements have been made to carry out his undertaking that home growers would be kept fully informed through the Potato Marketing Board about the timing and quantity of potato imports in the coming months, so that the marketing of the home crop, on which housewives mainly rely, will continue in an orderly way.

Mr. Godber

Under the terms of their licences importers are required to provide information about the potatoes which they import. Information about the total quantity of imports disclosed by these returns will be made available regularly to the Potato Marketing Board and other interests concerned.

85. Mr. G. Darling

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, in view of the Potato Marketing Board's assurance that there is no real shortage of supplies, what is the reason for the rise in potato prices.

Mr. Godber

Potato prices reflect current and prospective market conditions of supply and demand and it is to be expected that with a smaller crop this season, prices will be higher than last season.

Mr. Lewis

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he is aware of the continued shortage of potatoes and that the price has now risen to between 4d. and 6d. per 1b.; and whether it is still his declared intention not to ration potatoes.

Mr. Godber

My right hon. Friend has no evidence of any shortage of potatoes in the shops and he does not propose to ration them. The most usual range of retail prices is 3d. to 4d. per 1b.

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