§ 36 and 36. Mr. LOUGH
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food (1) whether, in view of the fact that in the instructions issued (L.G. 5) for the guidance of licensees under the new Tea Distribution Order it is stated that buying indents are only to be accepted from retailers whom the licensee was supplying during the datum period, and that the tea available for any licensee in the period from the 14th July to the 28th December, 1918, will not exceed the quantity entered by the licensee on his return to the Tea Control Committee, in order that the distribution of tea shall be kept during the War in the existing channels, he will say whether the ballot that has now taken place has been carried out on these lines; if these arrangements are being set aside, in accordance with what principles will the distribution of tea take place in the future, and how the firms will be selected to whom any monopoly which may be created will be entrusted; (2) whether the supplementary instructions issued on the 25th June to licensees under the new Tea Distribution Order stating that each licensee will receive all the tea necessary to meet the requirements set out on indents which he has obtained irrespective of the quantity of tea he may have distributed during the datum period will be adhered to; whether his attention has been drawn to the method by which large indents for requirements have been obtained in many instances; whether the effect of carrying out this amended plan will be to establish a different principle in the distribution of tea from that which has been set up with regard to any other great commodity and to give advantages amounting to a substantial monopoly to firms, companies, and societies who have disregarded the Orders of the Ministry and to punish those who have endeavoured to adhere to them; and what steps he proposes to take in the matter?
§ Mr. CLYNES
I can only repeat the answer which I sent the right hon. Gentle 11 man last Thursday. The ballot, which took place on the 28th June, was carried out in accordance with the supplemental instructions mentioned by the right hon. Gentleman. The wholesale distribution was, and in future will be, based upon the indents received from retailers, which were in turn based upon the number of their registered customers. The restriction of retailers to not more than three wholesalers in any case for their supplies is due to exigencies of transport. I have no knowledge of any illegitimate methods by which large indents for requirements have been obtained, nor will the arrangements made give advantages amounting to a substantial monopoly to any firm. If the right hon. Gentleman has any knowledge of contravention of the Food Controller's Orders, I shall be glad to have particulars.
Mr. McKINNON WOOD
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the right hon. Member for Islington (Mr. Lough) has furnished a number of cases? Will he consider those cases?
§ Mr. CLYNES
I saw that information, but I did not regard the information as being particulars of definite cases, but rather as illustrating the general complaint.