HC Deb 19 March 1917 vol 91 cc1529-30
26. Mr. W. THORNE

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food whether he is aware that, in consequence of there being a shortage of potatoes, two weeks ago swedes were being sold at Covent Garden Market at 30s. per ton, and a few days afterwards they jumped up to 50s.; whether he is aware that they have again jumped to £18 per ton, which is over 1,000 per cent. increase; if he is aware that for the week ending 10th March swedes in the East End of London were being retailed at 2½d. per pound, which works out at £l 4s. 4d., per cwt., or at the rate of £24 6s. 8d. per ton; if he is aware that parsnips have also jumped up in price about 300 per cent. if he is aware that all cereals have jumped up during the last few weeks about 200 per cent.; and if he intends taking any action in the matter?


I am aware that I there has recently been a considerable advance in the price of swedes and parsnips, but I cannot agree with the hon. Member that all cereals have risen by 200 per cent. in the last few weeks. The Food Controller will issue an Order fixing the maximum retail price for swedes at 1½d. per lb., which will protect the consumer against the exploitation in the case of this product. Swedes, from natural causes, will not in any case be available beyond another month. It is not proposed to take similar action as regards parsnips, the stocks of which are already practically exhausted.


Is the hon. Gentleman aware that as far as butter beans and haricot beans, and beans of that sort are concerned, the prices have jumped up 300 per cent., in accordance with my statement; and as far as swedes are concerned, surely he must admit that, if the Controller is going to allow the greengrocers to charge 1½d. per lb., when some time ago you could buy 2 lbs. for a penny, or for 1½d., it is an extraordinary price?


Butter beans and similar produce are not included within the terms of this very comprehensive question. As regards swedes, I rather hoped that I had satisfied the hon. Member as the result of this proposed action will be to reduce the price of swedes by, I imagine, something like 200 per cent., if the hon. Member is right in his figures.


Is it true that Mr. Den-niss, the Potato Controller, has said there is in the country only half-a-pound of potatoes per head per week for the next six weeks, and if so, what does the hon. Gentleman propose to do?


The hon. Member should give notice of that question.


There is a shortage of potatoes.

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