HC Deb 19 October 1916 vol 86 cc725-7
43. Mr. THOMAS

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that working people are experiencing difficulty in obtaining adequate supplies of sugar, and that they strongly resent the prevailing practice of making the sale of sugar dependent upon the purchase of other goods upon which no maximum price is fixed; and whether he proposes to take any action to ensure an adequate supply and more just distribution of this commodity?


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he can make a statement as to the right of a shopkeeper to insist on a purchase of other articles at the same time as a purchase of sugar?


As my hon. Friends are aware, the Sugar Commission has been compelled, in the public interest, to impose restrictions as to the supply of sugar, but the Commission is most anxious that these restrictions should not press with undue severity upon the working classes. No objection has been raised to the practice referred to in the question because the Commission felt that if retailers were forced to sell sugar alone their stocks would be exhausted 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. It is, however, a question whether some limit should not be placed upon the value of the goods which a retailer may require to be purchased at the same time as sugar is bought and this matter is now receiving the careful attention of the Sugar Commission.


Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind the fact that the poorer a person is the more difficult it is for him to get the sugar, because they are making a limitation of 4s. to be spent on other food before a pound of sugar can be obtained? He will see the effect upon the working-class family.


Yes. I understand that to be the hardship of the case, and we are going very fully into the matter.


Will the right hon. Gentleman do his utmost to make the limit as low as possible?


I have already done so; but my colleagues rather think my suggestion goes too far.


Will the right hon. Gentleman come to an early decision as to this question of limiting the amount of groceries a grocer can require a person to buy?


Yes. I will ask the Commission to come to a decision as quickly as possible.