HC Deb 17 August 1843 vol 71 cc911-2
Captain Polhill

said, he wished to ask a question of the Secretary for the Home Department in the absence of the President of the Board of Trade with respect to a very important subject, the price of bread in the metropolis. It was well known, that the bakers had within the last few weeks taken advantage of a small rise in the price of wheat, to effect a most exorbitant profit for themselves, by taking money out of the pockets of the poor. Although he was not an Anti-Corn-law Leaguer, he wished to see the poor enabled to eat their bread as cheap as they could, and, having suffered himself by the high price of bread, he wished to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he did not think it expedient to introduce some law or regulation by which the poor should be enabled to benefit by the alterations which might take place in the price of corn?

Sir J. Graham

said, the question was a difficult one to answer, and he should have been quite unprepared for it, if something like the question in a newspaper that morning had not called his attention to it. As it was a question of policy rather than of fact, he must say, he had no great reliance on an assize of bread.

Sir R. Peel

said, that he entirely despaired of the effect of a legislative remedy in regulating the price of bread. At the same time, he thought the fact to which his hon. Friend had called attention was a very remarkable one—namely, the great disproportion between the high price asked for bread in different places and the price of corn, and the advantage taken by the bakers of the rise of price. When a fall took place, there was no corresponding reduction. Though the Legislature might not be able to afford an effectual check to this, still he thought there might be a check if gentleman would not be ashamed to exert themselves in the matter, and refused to deal with all bakers excepting those who charged a fair price. That he believed would be an effectual mode of checking those who made extravagant charges. When, then, his hon. Friend was one of those who sanctioned and encouraged the evil of which he complained. The proper way would be to encourage tradesmen who did not ask an undue price.

House adjourned at six o' clock.