7 SEPTEMBER 1951, Page 2

By-Passing Covent Garden

Millions of housewives and thousands of growers of fruit and vegetables will await the details of the Government's plan for decentralised marketing with hope and eagerness. This is potentially the biggest winner-of good-will that the Government has invented for years, and the'Covent Garden operators, who may regard it with distaste, had •better get used to that fact. No advance "proof " that the scheme will not work will convince the public that it is wrong in its impression that the present marketing arrangements are inefficient, wasteful and expensive. On the face of it, the centralisation of supplies at the awkwardly sited Covent Garden Market is what Mr. Dalton said it was— silly. But if this centralisation, and the- long hauls of perishable produce which it involves, are more necessary than they appear to be, those who are interested in maintaining the present arrangements have nothing to fear. Nobody is going to be forced to use the new markets, and if they do not turn out to be money- savers, they will presumably wither away in due course. But consumers, who are interested before everything else in cutting down the present wickedly high prices of vegetables and fruit, will be very loth to accept the argument that the present distri- bution system, which looks silly, is superior to the new alternative until the question has been put to the test. Part of the answer will be given when the details are published. The other part will be dependent on the new arrangements, being given a fair trial. And a fair trial must include the positive co-operation of the growers and retailers.