Oral Answers to Questions — Food Supplies – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 14th December 1949.
asked the Minister of Food whether he is aware that since the re-imposition of the control of apples order retail prices have risen in the shops to 8½ d. for culinary apples, although growers are only receiving 1d. to 3d. per lb.; and in view of the fact that growers are affected by the large importation of foreign fruit, and that these lower prices are not passed on to the consumer, what steps he proposes to take to see that licences for the importation of horticultural produce are not issued whilst home supplies are sufficient.
Before and since price control was re-introduced, growers have been receiving from 3½ d. to 5d. per lb. for large, good quality cooking apples and the prices in the shops have varied according to quality. Only desert apples are imported and the reason why growers have been receiving low prices for small, poor or ungraded cooking apples is the heavy yield of the home crop.
As there appears to be some doubt about the information which the Ministry of Food seems to receive, may I ask the right hon. Lady to get some of her investigators or snoopers to find out what is really happening and give her some proper information?
Before I answered this Question, I asked my investigators in the area in which the hon. Gentleman farms to find out the prices.
Will my right hon. Friend take note of the difficulties of going into this matter, in view of the awful example of Adam and Eve and apples?
Will my right hon. Friend have regard to the fact that the cessation of imports would tend to curtail supplies to the housewife, and does she not think that the implication of the question is that the proper thing to do is to look at the reasons for the disparity between the price paid to the grower and that paid by the housewife?
I quite agree with my hon. Friend and he knows that I have devoted a great deal of my time to that investigation.
Will the right hon. Lady send one of her investigators to the farm of the hon. Member for Leominster to see if he can negotiate a deal for thousands of boxes of apples of good quality?