§ 111. Mr. LOUGH
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he has received from a committee of wholesale tea dealers communications from their customers stating that they are unable to buy tea or coffee owing to the pressure put upon them by houses offering sugar who will 1538 only supply it on condition that tea and coffee are bought with it; and whether the Royal Commission can issue stringent regulations to prevent the continuance of this practice?
§ Mr. McKENNA
I have received the communications referred to by my right hon. Friend. Wholesale dealers in sugar are not entitled to require purchasers to take other goods as well as a condition of obtaining sugar; and the Commission is ready to investigate any case of the kind, if brought before them with full particulars.
§ 112. Mr. ROWLANDS
asked whether the Sugar Commission has yet come to any conclusion as to the amount of other goods which a retailer of sugar may be allowed to insist upon selling with every pound of sugar?
§ Mr. McKENNA
The practice of requiring customers to purchase a certain quantity of other groceries as a condition of obtaining sugar is one that has been adopted by retailers of their own accord as a means of protecting their reduced stocks of sugar from too rapid depletion., The Commission have so far not thought it right to interfere beyond insisting that the customer must be left complete freedom of choice as regards the other goods to be purchased. But it will now further decline to countenance enforcement of the condition unless the value of the goods which a retailer may require to be purchased at the same time as sugar does not exceed 2s. in respect of each pound of sugar.
§ Mr. CROOKS
Will the right hon. Gentleman tell me how an old age pensioner can afford to buy 2s. worth of grocery?
§ Mr. McKENNA
I do not suppose an old age pensioner can afford to buy 1 lb. 1539 of sugar at once in respect of each purchase. If an old age pensioner spends 6d. on sugar, he would be obliged to spend quite 2s. on other groceries. I assume that an old age pensioner will spend less than 6d. on sugar, and proportionately a larger amount on other groceries.
§ Mr. ANDERSON
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that, unless there is some restriction imposed, well-to-do people go round from shop to shop buying up the sugar?
Mr. SHIRLEY BENN
Will the right hon. Gentleman consider the advisability of making it obligatory on the grocers to sell a minimum amount of sugar with other goods?
§ Mr. BILLING
Does the right hon. Gentleman consider that it is fair that poor men should be expected to spend 25 per cent, of their total expenditure on sugar?