HC Deb 22 April 1915 vol 71 cc378-9

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that the rate of freight on wheat from the Argentine to ports in the United Kingdom was for shipment on or about 1st February, 1915, 75s. per ton or thereabouts, and for shipment on or about 1st April, 1915, 60s. per ton or thereabouts; whether, in view of this reduction in the cost of sea carriage, he can account for the increase in the price of wheat in this country and the increased cost to the consumer of the 4 lb. loaf; and whether he can state the present price of the 4 lb. loaf in London and in other important centres of Great Britain, and the equivalent cost in Paris and in other important centres in France?

The PRESIDENT Of the BOARD of TRADE (Mr. Runciman)

The fall in freight rates referred to was, on an average, not so great as that stated, but in any case I may remind the hon. Member that in view of the time occupied by the voyage and the marketing and milling of the wheat the present prices of wheat, flour and bread in this country can hardly be governed by freight rates from the Argentine at about 1st April. The present price of household bread is 8½d. for 4 lbs. in London and Birmingham; 8d. in Edinburgh, Liverpool, Hull, and Derby; and 7½d. at Glasgow and Belfast. At Paris and Havre the price is 7¾d.; at Lyons 8¼d.; and at Marseilles and Bordeaux, 8¾d.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that freights to France are usually from 2s. 6d. to 5s. a ton higher than to this country; and can he explain why bread is cheaper in France than here?


I am afraid I cannot give any explanation without notice.


Can you give any reason for the difference in the price of the 4 lb. loaf in London and Glasgow?


I cannot without notice. The question is much too complex for an answer in reply to a supplementary question.