HC Deb 15 August 1916 vol 85 cc1643-4
47. Mr. O'GRADY

asked the Prime Minister whether he is aware that the price of bread in London was to be raised on Monday, 14th August, to 9d. the 4-lb. loaf; and whether, having regard to the fact that the purchasing power of £1 is at present 12s. 9d., or thereabouts, he will say if there is any intention on the part of His Majesty's Government to take steps to prevent further increase in prices and to bring down the present price of bread to 8d. the 4-lb. loaf?


The Prime Minister has asked me to reply to this question. I am aware of the fact that a general rise in the price of bread has just taken place in London. This appears to have been caused mainly by the rise in the price of wheat in New York, resulting from circumstances affecting the condition of the wheat and prospects of the harvest in North America. My hon. Friend will appreciate the fact that these circumstances are beyond the control of His Majesty's Government.


Is it a fact that speculators in this country have been holding up wheat and forcing up prices?


No, I do not think so. There has been a very remarkable rise in the price of Northern Manitoba wheat in the last four weeks in Mark Lane—from 57s. to 72s. 6d. per quarter on Friday last.


Does, not the right hon. Gentleman think that to prosecute some of these people would do a little good?


You cannot prosecute in America.


Is my right hon. Friend going to take any steps to commandeer the coming British harvests for the purpose of keeping down the price of bread?


No; I have no announcement to make on that subject to-day.