HC Deb 18 April 1918 vol 105 cc538-9
19. Mr. LOUGH

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food whether one price has been fixed for cheese, irrespective of quality, both for its purchase and distribution; whether the same limitation as to price and quality has been applied to other commodities; and whether, seeing that such a Regulation places a premium on inferiority of production and is for this reason contrary to the public interest, he proposes to take any action in the matter?


Cheese is purchased abroad by the Ministry of Food at prices which vary according to the quality, grade and country of origin of the cheese. On being imported into this country these varieties are issued to retailers to be sold to the consumer at a flat rate. For British-made cheese there is at present no flat rate, but a scheme is in contemplation whereby British cheese, with some small exceptions, will be purchased on behalf of the Ministry of Food at varying prices according to quality and will also be sold to the consumer at a flat rate. We have standardised flour and, as the right hon. Gentleman is probably aware, we have also standardised tea. I can only repeat that these are war measures, and I think that there will be no disapproval of the steps which we are taking.


My right hon. Friend has not replied to the latter part of the question, whether he does not think that it is contrary to the public interest to fix the same price for an inferior article as for one of good quality, especially as he admits that he buys them at different pries himself and only fixes a flat rate for the consumer?


No, I do not hold the opinion that it is contrary to the public interest to take this course. It is the policy of the Food Minister to supply as far as we can similar articles to the public at the same price. When this cannot in all cases be done it means that here and there the public in turn take their share of getting an inferior article. It means that some of us at sometime or other get an inferior article. We have to take our chance.


May I ask the hon. Gentleman whether he means to consider the question, say, of cheese, whether he has noticed a great deterioration in the quality even of the cheese supplied to this House, and whether that is not due to the fact that he is only charging the same price for inferior cheese as for good cheese?


The element of quality is not in the slightest degree affected by the policy being pursued by the Controller.


Can the hon. Gentleman say when it is proposed to fix the price of British-made cheese?


Very early indeed.


In fixing the price will the hon. Gentleman base it on the lower quality and not on the higher quality?


Will the hon. Gentleman see that it is cheese?

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