HC Deb 14 March 1917 vol 91 cc1079-80
90. Mr. LOUGH

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food whether the prices fixed for various articles of provisions are only to apply for fourteen days; whether he has noticed that inconvenience and uncertainty has been caused in Liverpool and other places by this arbitrary fixing of rates for so short a time and the prohibition of inter-trading; and whether he proposes to take any action to ensure that business can be conducted on a permanent basis which will tend to inspire confidence in production, in the bringing forward of supplies, and distribution?


The prices for provisions fixed by the London and Provincial produce exchanges, with the sanction of the Food Controller, are intended, as already announced, to apply for a fortnight, when they will be open to revision. This arrangement was made with the concurrence of representatives from Liverpool and other places of the commercial interests affected. I have no reason to believe that inconvenience or uncertainty has been caused.

91. Mr. LOUGH

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food whether prices officially fixed for bacon, butter, cheese, and lard apply only to wholesale sales; whether any restriction was imposed on the rates at which whole sale or retail dealers who paid these prices should resell to their customers or the public; whether the Order contained any provision for recoupment to dealers who had bought stocks at a higher rate immediately before it was issued; whether the price of North of Ireland dried rolls of bacon has been actually fixed at 170s. per cwt.; whether fixing such rates may tend to stereotype high prices; and if ho will lay a copy of the Order before the House of Commons?


With the sanction of the Food Controller, the London and Provincial produce exchanges have drawn up a list of maximum importers', manufacturers', and curers' prices, and have agreed that in no case should they be exceeded in the United Kingdom. The Food Controller is considering what steps are necessary to regulate the prices of the commodities affected, but he does not propose to recoup persons who had bought stocks prior to issue of the notice. The answer to the fourth part of the question is in the affirmative, but, as I have just stated, the rates are subject to revision after a fortnight.


Is there any restriction on the prices at which these goods may be resold? I do not think that was answered.


No. It is no part of the present arrangement, which was made by the London and Provincial produce exchanges, but if those prices become excessive the Food Controller will, of course, interfere.

92. Mr. LOUGH

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food if he will say under what Section of the Defence of the Realm Acts the Food Controller is able to carry out his policy of fixing prices; whether the rates announced by him must be observed by the three sections engaged in each business, namely, importers or manufacturers, wholesale and retail distributors; and whether it is necessary to lay the copy of any Order fixing prices before Parliament, and if the House can take any steps if it should not approve of the proposals?


The powers of the Food Controller as to the fixing of prices are conferred by Regulation 2F of the Defence of the Realm Regulations, these Regulations being made pursuant to Section 4 of the Defence of the Realm Acts and New Ministers and Secretaries Act. Under these powers he can fix prices which must be observed by any class of person specified in the Order. There is no statutory obligation to lay any Orders made by the Food Controller before Parliament, but these Orders are in fact being so laid.

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