HC Deb 22 February 1917 vol 90 cc1461-2

asked the President of the Board of Trade, if he will state what means the Board of Trade have for compelling retail coal merchants to sell at the prices issued by the Department; will he state who institutes prosecutions; and what are the maximum penalties for not carrying out the Board of Trade price order?


The London coal prices to which the hon. Member refers were fixed by voluntary arrangement between the merchants and the Board, of Trade, and it is part of the arrangement that the merchants will refuse to supply small dealers who charge more than the agreed prices. These dealers are required by by-laws of the London County Council to display their prices prominently and to charge no more than the prices displayed; and the county council have prosecuted in a number of cases of infringements under these by-laws. The maximum penalty is a fine of £5. I understand that the London Coal Merchants Committee have received a considerable number of complaints regarding prices, and that they are having them investigated. When I have received their report I will consider what further steps it may be necessary to take.


I would like to ask what action the hon. Gentleman has taken in regard to a number of cases in which I have given him the names and addresses of coal merchants who have been charging up to 2s. 4d. per cwt?


I am having them investigated in the form I have indicated in my reply.