§ Mr. FLAVIN
(by Private Notice) asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food Control whether he is aware that within the past three weeks the short price of tea in bond, as sold on the London market, has gone up by over 20 per cent.; whether he is aware that there is no shortage of tea for immediate or near future consumption; and whether he is also aware that several large tea companies and profiteers have taken this unpatriotic action of artificially raising the price of tea, and also of forestalling the Budget, as was done last year, with the result that the masses of the people, especially the poor, who are already heavily burdened in the cost of food, are now further penalised by the increased cost of their tea by over 3d. in the pound weight; and whether he can state what action, if any, has been taken, or will be taken in the matter?
I understand, on inquiry, that an increase of the nature mentioned in the question has taken place recently. On the information at present before the Food Controller, he knows of no sufficient justification for such an in- 420 crease, and he proposes to take immediate steps to investigate the causes of this sudden advance in price.
§ Mr. FLAVIN
Will the hon. Gentleman take such action as will make public these large companies who unpatriotically have bought large quantities of tea on the market and have stored it in their huge warehouses in order to increase the price to the poor people?
I will certainly take note of the hon. Member's suggestion and convey it to the Food Controller.
§ Sir J. D. REES
Does the hon. Gentleman remember that similar allegations on previous occasions on inquiry turned out to be founded on a total misunderstanding?