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There were "no cigarettes" signs in many tobacconists on Wednesday, as retailers kept their stock under the counter until after the budget. On Thursday Mr Hugh Dalton, Chancellor of the Exchequer, duly announced his budget, in which the price of a packet of 20 cigarettes rose to 3s 4d.

Soon the shops were fully stocked again. A packet of 10 Wills Wild Woodbine is 1s 3d and 10 Players No 3 now cost 1s10d. Players medium Navy Cut tobacco costs 4/- an ounce.

There is much encouraging news in the budget: Britain will be able to pay its way this year, and many working people will pay less tax than before, but the burning issue up and down the country has been Mr Dalton's increased tax on cigarettes and tobacco.

Many ex-servicemen complain that, after fighting for their country in the war, they are now having to pay an exorbitant amount for the one thing in life they enjoy. Tim Brown, Labour MP for Ince (Lancs) suggested giving an allowance of pre-tax tobacco to the elderly.

Others, including many women, are in favour of the increase, as they say it gives a chance for people to cut down. Observers have noted less passengers on the top deck of buses, as men opt for the non-smoking lower deck to avoid temptation.

It is well known that Britain is especially liberal to smokers. In many other countries including Czechoslovakia and France, smoking in cinemas and public places is forbidden, but not here, where the only smoke-free places would appear to be down coal mines, in gasholders and in church.

Tomatoes, lettuce and radishes are now plentiful, as are Dutch cucumbers, though at a price: Imported from Holland, they cost retailers 7s a pound and are sold for10s. And on Tuesday, the first consignment of strawberries arrived in Manchester. They were priced at 20 shillings a pound, and were all bought within 30 minutes. The 8 lb of strawberries came by plane from the south of France. A big drop in green vegetable and fruit prices is forcast at Smithfield Market.

More than 20,000 parcels are reaching the North-west from the United States. Every parcel weighs 25 lb and contains white flour, sugar, braised beef, cooking fat and other provisions.

Each one is a free gift from a citizen of the USA to a friend in Britain. Many will go to homes in Manchester, where many US soldiers were billeted during the war.

There were angry scenes at a public enquiry this week in connection with the acquisition by Manchester Corporation of 740 acres of land in and around Wythenshawe.

Mr A G Anderson, one of the protesters, said: "It is a crime that land providing 1000 tons of food a year to the city should be dug up for the purpose of parkways and playing fields." The Corporation say they need the land, as there is very little space for building closer to the centre.

A 26 year old woman was found dead in a gas-filled room in Littleborough, Rochdale. She is reported to have become depressed after her engagement to a young man was broken off because he was of a different religion.

It's been good news for cotton this week, as managers report rising production and more jobs. The improvement has been helped by the 75% fuel allocation. The only problem seems to be a widespread shortage of female labour.

Things are looking less encouraging at Ringway, which due to uncertainty about its future is slumping into a "holiday hop" aerodrome. The 1m air port, once visualised as the main air terminal for northern England, has only eight scheduled arrivals and departures per day, though British European Airways has plans for new air lines to Newcastle, Bristol, Birmingham, Paris and Copenhagen.

Quads were born today to Mr and Mrs Harold Lowe of Seedley, Salford. The babies are being treated "like precious orchids" at Hope Hospital. Described as being "in a weak condition" they have been put into oxygen tents. The Mayor will provide a priority home for the Lowes, who have no home of their own.

Wednesday was Manchester's warmest day so far this year. At three o'clock the thermometers reached 66 degrees, but by the weekend, temperatures had gone down. Freshening winds from the south west, rain, and cooler temperatures are forecast.

Text and photos by Aidan O'Rourke

(Based on reports in the Manchester Evening News)

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