HC Deb 07 November 1916 vol 87 cc36-8

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, in view of the fact that sugar and sugared goods to the value of nearly £600,000 were exported from this country to the United States, Sweden, Norway, and the Netherlands in the first nine months of this year, he will prohibit or restrict such exports, and thereby release sugar which is urgently needed for domestic consumption?


It is not in contemplation to prohibit or restrict the export of articles of food containing sugar. The total quantity of sugar contained in such goods is relatively insignificant, and any advantage resulting to consumers in this country from its retention would be so small that it would in no way compensate for the difficulties of various kinds that would arise from restrictive regulations, which would necessarily have to be applied to import as well as to export.


Is it not a fact that in the first nine months of this year the exports of sugared goods amounted to nearly £600,000?


The amount of sugar would not be much; it is not worth the trouble.


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, in view of the serious shortage of sugar for purposes of domestic consumption, he will give directions to the Sugar Commission to restrict the amount of sugar supplied to manufacturers in this country of sugared goods which are not necessaries of life?

67. Sir R. COOPER

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he contemplates the restriction of the use of sugar in the manufacture of the more expensive qualities of sweets, with a view to the relief of the scarcity of sugar for legitimate household requirements?


The answer to both questions is in the negative, and for much the same reasons as I have just given for not interfering with the export of articles of food containing sugar.

Commander WEDGWOOD

May I ask whether it is not advisable to give people a sense of justice as well as sugar? Although the amount of sugar used in these sweets is small, yet as long as this goes on people whose children are stinted of sugar for necessary purposes will feel they are being treated most unjustly?


Is it not a fact that, owing to the right hon. Gentleman's decision, the masses of the people of this country have to suffer for those who indulge in unnecessary luxuries?


It is not an easy question, but I am quite sure, if the sense of the House were in favour of stopping the manufacture of sweets, the manufacturers of sweets would willingly accept the decision. The problem is one that is constantly engaging the attention of the Committee, and we will certainly go further into it.


Is the right hon. Gentleman really not aware of the most serious hardship suffered by the people of the country owing to the shortness of the supply of sugar for domestic purposes, and cannot he devise some method of relieving that hardship?


I can only say, I believe at the present time, even with the restricted supply of sugar, the consumption in this country is at least equal to that of any other country in Europe—probably very much greater. I admit the hardship is severe compared with the ordinary practice, but we have to submit to these hardships because of the War.


But will not the right hon. Gentleman restrict the luxurious use of sugar? That is the point.


Will the right hon. Gentleman also consider the restriction of sugar in the manufacture of alcoholic liquors?


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the price of sugar is higher in America than here?


I believe that is the case, and I believe that is owing to the management by the Sugar Commission.