asked the Minister of Food, in view of the great number of oranges that have gone bad out of the consignments recently received owing to the embargo on retailers disposing of them before a certain date, if he will remove this and so save this waste of valuable food.
No embargo has been imposed on retailers by my Department. In some cases local distribution committees have asked retailers to commence sales simultaneously, but the delay in any case is short, and could have no effect on the condition of the fruit. I have received no evidence that these arrangements have caused waste.
In view of the fact that the Department has a large number of inspectors, could not some inquiries be made, because the waste seems general? Surely the Department ought to be capable of re-organising itself so as to end this waste?
The supplies of these bitter oranges will work out at only about 1 lb. per family of four persons. I believe that the concession by which people were allowed to take sugar instead of jam allows a large number of people to make that extra marmalade at home which they very much welcome.
I can assure my hon. and learned Friend that we are supplying the full requirements of the marmalade factories for these bitter oranges. It is the residue that is going into the shops for individuals.
Oranges are difficult things, because they will not keep and they have to be distributed as quickly as possible. We do try to distribute them evenly over the country and we hold them in the shops for five days for anybody who has not already had his ration book marked. We are doing our best. A very large percentage of the oranges are getting to people in good condition and are very much welcomed.