asked the Minister of Food whether he is aware that on 20th June Skipper J. R. C. Reader landed 495 stones of dabs at Lowestoft only one-third of which were sold at 4s. a stone and that the remainder were sent to the farmers for manure at 2d. a stone, whereas the same class of fish was being sold in Ipswich at 14s. a stone; and what steps he proposes to take to ensure that good fish is not thrown away for manure but sold at the proper price to the advantage of the consuming public.
On 20th June, 360 stones of fish, out of about 6,500 stones landed at Lowestoft, were not sold and were sent away for manure. This fish, which included a part of Skipper Reader's catch, was mostly small and thin dabs, for which there is little demand. The fish on sale in Ipswich at the maximum retail price may have come from other ports and were, presumably, of better size and quality. While we are anxious that distributors should pass on to the public the benefits of any reduction in the first-hand price, there is no practicable way of enforcing them to do so.
May I ask my right hon. Friend whether the practice now is to see that at least the best of the fish is being distributed at a cheaper price, and can she assure the House that her Department is not continuing to follow the good old Tory policy of throwing the surplus away?
I should have thought it was quite clear to my hon. Friend that we do not follow the Tory policy—he should know—that and I should say that sometimes his conclusions are a little hasty and that he should ascertain his facts more carefully. As he has studied this matter, perhaps he will give me the benefit of his information and tell me how we can compel retailers to reduce the price?
We certainly cannot compel the retailer. I am talking about the right hon. Lady's Department. Her information is altogether different from that which I have had from Skipper Reader, who has explained exactly what the fish is like, and what he says does not in the least resemble what the right hon. Lady says.
Would the right hon. Lady say whether anything is being done to reconsider the whole matter of the sale and distribution of fish in the ports, as the method which has operated has always been very unsatisfactory?