57. Sir F. HALL
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food if, under the recent Order with reference to fruit prices, no restrictions are imposed as to the price for sale by retail of 5lbs. of fruit or less; whether local food committees have power to prosecute food retailers who make excessive charges in cases in which food prices are not controlled; and, if they have no such power, will the Department consider the 1222 question of conferring upon the committees authority to prosecute in cases in which extortionate prices are sought to be charged?
§ Mr. CLYNES
The answer to the first part of the question is that no such restrictions are imposed except in the case of strawberries, for which a maximum retail price of 9d. per lb. has been fixed. The answer to the second part of the question is in the negative. The answer to the last part of the question is that the Food Controller is constantly considering whether it is in the public interest that the price of any particular foodstuffs should be fixed. He does not, however, consider that it would be practicable to conifer on food committees the indefinite powers suggested in the last part of the question.
Sir F. HALL
Does not the right hon. Gentleman think that the local food committees are, at all events, capable of judging the best steps to be taken, and, under the circumstances, does he not think such authorities might reasonably be left in the hands of the local committees?
§ Mr. CLYNES
Well, as I have already said, we do not think that the authorities should have the indefinite powers suggested, but we do seek their judgment, and in collecting that judgment try to arrange that the decisions shall be uniform so as to cover all local authorities.