Sago Flour

Oral Answers to Questions — Food Supplies – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 31st October 1949.

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Photo of Major Sir Basil Neven-Spence Major Sir Basil Neven-Spence , Orkney and Shetland 12:00 am, 31st October 1949

asked the Minister of Food how many tons of sago flour were imported from Sarawak during 1947, 1948 and the first six months of 1949, respectively; and what was the average number of tons imported annually during the 10 immediate pre-war years.

Photo of Dr Edith Summerskill Dr Edith Summerskill , Fulham West

There are no separate figures of sago flour imports for prewar years in the trade returns. My Department bought 15,675 tons in 1947, but then stopped buying in order to safeguard the needs of the Allied Forces in the Far East. We have recently resumed buying.

Photo of Major Sir Basil Neven-Spence Major Sir Basil Neven-Spence , Orkney and Shetland

Is the Ministry still importing sago flour?

Photo of Major Sir Basil Neven-Spence Major Sir Basil Neven-Spence , Orkney and Shetland

asked the Minister of Food the price at which unbranded, undressed sago flour was offered to him by merchants at Singapore in September, 1949; and the basic selling price ex-store at which it was offered to consumers in the United Kingdom during the same month.

Photo of Dr Edith Summerskill Dr Edith Summerskill , Fulham West

Sago flour was offered to my Ministry during 1948 at prices ranging as high as £40 per ton c. & f. Liverpool, but prices have fallen in recent months and in September of this year we had an offer at £26 10s. The Ministry's ex-store selling price of sago flour during September, 1949, was £46 5s. per ton: it has since been reduced to £38 per ton.

Photo of Major Sir Basil Neven-Spence Major Sir Basil Neven-Spence , Orkney and Shetland

Was that a profit of close on 75 per cent., and did the Ministry charge this exorbitant profit in order partially to cover up some losses on bulk purchase buying?

Photo of Dr Edith Summerskill Dr Edith Summerskill , Fulham West

The hon. Gentleman is quite wrong. If he will ask any manufacturer who uses starch he will ascertain that our policy is to try to level out starch prices for the benefit of manufacturers. That is why a surcharge was imposed on sago flour.

Photo of Major Sir Basil Neven-Spence Major Sir Basil Neven-Spence , Orkney and Shetland

asked the Minister of Food if he will take immediate steps to remove all controls on the importation of sago flour into the United Kingdom in order to encourage production in Sarawak, preserve the traditional market in the United Kingdom, help our shipping industry, and satisfy the needs of consumers in this country.

Photo of Dr Edith Summerskill Dr Edith Summerskill , Fulham West

My right hon. Friend will consider this.

Photo of Major Sir Basil Neven-Spence Major Sir Basil Neven-Spence , Orkney and Shetland

To which does the right hon. Lady attach more importance, selling starch at a uniform price irrespective of quality or burking the consequences of had bargains in bulk buying?

Photo of Dr Edith Summerskill Dr Edith Summerskill , Fulham West

We have been doing the former in the interests of the manufacturers, who like a uniform price.

Photo of Sir Waldron Smithers Sir Waldron Smithers , Orpington

What about the consumer?

Photo of Hon. John Maclay Hon. John Maclay , Montrose District of Burghs

Does not the policy of averaging prices cause real hardship to manufacturers who sell abroad in competition with other merchants, who are able to buy on a free market and sell their products at prices based on the raw commodity price? Is not that bound to work against the British exporter?

Photo of Dr Edith Summerskill Dr Edith Summerskill , Fulham West

I have already said that we will consider the suggestion of the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Sir B. Neven-Spence).