HC Deb 14 March 1917 vol 91 cc1081-3

(by Private Notice) asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food whether it is a fact that an Order was issued on Saturday last by the Food Controller relating to the price of bacon, fixing the price of English bacon at 150s. a cwt. and the price of Irish bacon at 140s. a cwt.; whether he is aware that the term "English bacon" covers pigs exported from Ireland and cured in England; whether he is further aware that English dealers can go to Ireland under this Order and give a higher price for pigs than the Irish dealers can; and whether, in view of the fact that this exclusion of Irish dealers from their own home market will have the effect of closing down the important Irish industry of bacon-curing, the Food Controller will at once withdraw this Order?


The prices referred to were not fixed by an Order of the Food Controller—[An HON. MEMBER: "Why?"]—but were agreed to and announced by the London and Provincial Produce Exchanges, with the sanction of the Food Controller, as maximum prices to be observed by traders throughout the United Kingdom. The prices are subject to review after a fortnight, but I may point out that there has frequently been a difference in the market prices of English and of Irish bacon. The Food Controller has already been in consultation with representatives of the Irish bacon curers on the subject of this announcement. I may add that I have only within the last hour received this private notice and have been unable to consult the Food Controller on the matter, but it shall be at once brought to his notice.


As the hon. Gentleman has just stated that previously there was a difference between English and Irish bacon, can he say if it was ever anything like 10s. a cwt?


Yes, I can. The difference in January last between English and Irish bacon was exactly 10s.


Is the hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that at the present time the prime cost of bacon to the curers is 146s. a cwt.; is he going to deprive those men of getting a profit when it stands at 146s. a cwt.; and is he going to compel them to reduce their price of bacon and to impose upon farmers the same high prices for feeding stuffs?


I, personally, have no authority whatever in these matters, but I am quite sure that the Food Controller, in the interests of the consumer, is not going to take any action which will prove detrimental to the important bacon-curing industry of Ireland.

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