Cornish Early Potatoes

Oral Answers to Questions — Food Supplies – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 27th July 1949.

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Mr. McKie:

asked the Minister of Food the financial loss resulting from the Government agreement to buy Cornish early potatoes.

Photo of Dr Edith Summerskill Dr Edith Summerskill , Fulham West

I would refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my right hon. Friend to the hon. Member for Salisbury (Mr. J. Morrison) on 18th July, which related to the Cornish crop.

Mr. McKie:

While thanking the right hon. Lady for the information she has given in that reply, may I ask her if she is aware that this disastrous agreement completely dislocated the early potato market in Scotland and having regard to the loss the Government sustained, will she give an assurance that no such agreement will be entered into again?

Photo of Dr Edith Summerskill Dr Edith Summerskill , Fulham West

I think the hon. Gentleman is quite wrong. He must make some more inquiries into this question in Scotland. He knows I would never mislead him. He will discover that the Cornish potatoes were disposed of by 13th June and that the Scottish "earlies" did not come into the market until after that date.

Mr. McKie:

Is the right hon. Lady aware that those facts are not quite true? There was considerable dislocation. I hope she will take that from me in the same spirit.

Photo of Mr Cyril Osborne Mr Cyril Osborne , Louth Borough

Is the right hon. Lady aware that the farmers of Lincolnshire have made similar protests about these Cornish potatoes, and would she look into the question and give them the answer for which they have asked?

Photo of Dr Edith Summerskill Dr Edith Summerskill , Fulham West

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will put a Question down. This concerns Scotland.

Photo of Commander Sir Peter Agnew Commander Sir Peter Agnew , Camborne

Is it not a fact that the potatoes of Cornwall left the county in admirable condition, and that it was only due to the delays occasioned by the mismanagement of the Ministry of Food that many hundreds of tons of them languished in British railway wagons instead of reaching the housewife?

Mr. De la Bère:

Is it not on a parallel with agriculture?

Photo of Mr Sidney Dye Mr Sidney Dye , Norfolk South Western

In view of the nature of the particular crop of new potatoes, would it not be better to leave it for another year entirely to the producers and the trade to distribute them, rather than to carry on with the present guarantee?

Hon. Members:

Come over here.

Photo of Dr Edith Summerskill Dr Edith Summerskill , Fulham West

I am afraid I cannot always take the advice of my hon. Friend.