§ 57. Sir L. Lyle
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food whether he is satisfied that the egg marketing scheme is working satisfactorily; how much the taxpayer has to pay in subsidy; and the average number of fresh eggs now being received weekly by the average consumer?
§ Mr. Mabane
I am satisfied that the egg marketing scheme is generally working satisfactorily. This time of the year is the period of lowest production, and the supplies of fresh eggs available only permit of the distribution to the average consumer of one fresh egg in about six or seven weeks. Since 1st January, 1942, the distribution through the scheme has been equivalent to 29 fresh eggs for each non-priority consumer and about 116 for priority consumers. The subsidy required to hold the price to the consumer at the determined levels is at present at the rate of £13,000,000 a year.
§ Sir L. Lyle
Does not my hon. Friend think that his reply is a little inconsistent in view of the fact that in one breath he says that the scheme is working very satisfactorily and in another he says that its cost is over £13,000,000, and we get one egg in about eight weeks?
§ Mr. Mabane
The answer was framed expressly to avoid that supplementary Question, because it is clear the £13,000,000 which the hon. Member would attribute to the egg marketing scheme is not due to the egg marketing scheme but to the subsidising of egg prices to enable the present level of egg prices to be maintained.
§ Sir W. Wayland
Could not higher prices be offered to producers of eggs to induce them to produce more?
Could the hon. Gentleman say what would be the price of an egg without the subsidy?
§ 62. Mr. Sorensen
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food whether he is aware of hardship caused to patients with a priority certificate for eggs being unable to secure these from their registered retailer owing to absence of supplies; and whether, when this is the case he will empower the local food officer to arrange alternative sources of retail supply and to direct the patient to secure the eggs from that retailer?
§ Mr. Mabane
I am aware that during the winter months priority consumers may not always be able to obtain a regular weekly allowance of shell eggs. During the period of short supply it is impracticable to arrange for regular distribution; and all retailers in an area may 1160 not receive deliveries at the same time if they deal with different wholesalers. When, however, supplies are delivered to the shops priority consumers should obtain their full quota calculated at the rate of three eggs a week and retailers have been instructed accordingly, As distribution of eggs to retailers is based on registration the position of priority consumers in general would not be improved by changes of retailer and my Noble Friend is not therefore able to adopt the suggestion made in the last part of the Question. If, however, my hon. Friend will inform me of any specific cases of difficulty, I shall be glad to look into them.
§ Mr. Sorensen
Where in special cases the local food controller is satisfied that very grave hardship to the detriment of the health of the-person might be caused where those eggs were not available, could he not have a discretionary power?
§ Mr. Mabane
I think it might help if I make it plain that the priority allowance is not three eggs a week but at the rate of three a week, and that as the allocation of eggs reaches the retailer it would be to the advantage of the consumers if they took the allocation say for three or four weeks, at the same time. Then they might get their full allocation.