HC Deb 12 October 1916 vol 86 cc198-9
95. Major HUNT

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that grocers are making use of the sugar shortage to compel poor people to buy other articles which they do not want before they are allowed any sugar; and what steps he proposes to take to stop this practice?


The Royal Commission on the Sugar Supply has not raised objection to sugar being sold only when other groceries are purchased, provided that the choice of groceries is left to the customer and sugar is not used as a lever to compel the customer to purchase particular goods. If retailers were compelled to sell sugar alone their stocks would be exhausted almost as soon as they were exposed for sale, and only the first applicants would obtain supplies. In particular the working classes, whose wages are paid at the end of the week, would suffer specially. The subject is one of very grave difficulty, and the Sugar Commission have always been ready to listen to any representations on the subject.


May I ask if there is any restriction on the amount and value of the articles which may be required to be bought?


I know nothing of that. The Sugar Commission has made no rule on the subject. This is the action of individual traders. If any case of improper action is brought to the notice of the Commissioners they will, of course, act at once.


Seeing that the private retailers impose very artificial conditions—some high and some low—will the right hon. Gentleman lay down some rule?


I will consult with the Commission on the subject. I am sure hon. Members will appreciate how extraordinarily difficult a matter it is.