HC Deb 20 December 1915 vol 77 cc10-1
15. Mr. W. THORNE

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that, according to the statement made in the "Board of Trade Labour Gazette" for December, the increase in food prices shows a general rise of 44 per cent. since the outbreak of war; if he is aware that many labourers who are working in Yorkshire, Lancashire, and many other towns in the different parts of the country are only receiving a standard rate of wages varying from 24s. to 27s. 6d., including 3s. war bonus; if he is aware that, in consequence of the rise in the price of food-stuffs, the lower paid workers feel justified in pressing for higher rates; and if he intends taking any action in the matter with a view to reducing food prices?


As I have stated on more than one recent occasion in this House, the question both of the supplies and the prices of food-stuffs engages the constant attention of the Government. Steps have been taken to assure adequate supplies, but it is clear that any attempt to fix maximum prices might only have the result of reducing supplies.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that a certain number of gentlemen who call themselves the Millers' Association meet from time to time and decide what is to be the selling price of flour?


What they may do at their private meetings is unknown to us, but we keep a very strict eye on the corn and flour market, and from time to time the Board of Agriculture officials are in close touch with the millers.


Does the right hon. Gentleman know that they do not mind being looked at if you do not do anything?


My hon. Friend must not take it for granted that we do nothing. The millers tell quite a different story.


Is it not a fact that they were very much concerned when the Government took action regarding the purchase of wheat last summer?


Yes, I think that is a fact and I think it is also true that they are very much perturbed at the action the Government are now taking.