HC Deb 18 August 1919 vol 119 cc1915-6

(by Private Notice) asked the Food Controller whether his attention has been called to the waste of fish at various ports as the result of local arrangements to keep up prices, whether the cargo of a Scottish herring boat was sold as manure at North Shields on Friday owing to a general agreement not to permit it to be landed because a reduction in prices would have followed; whether the Profiteering Act exempts all such gross profiteering from punishment, since fish is controlled; what action in consequence he proposes to take immediately to stop such practices, and whether it is not time the controlled prices of fish were revised?


I have no information to the effect that fish is being destroyed at various ports with a view to keeping up prices. If the hon. Member has such information in his possession I shall be glad to receive it, and, of course, immediate inquiries will have to be made into it. My attention has been called to a statement as to the disposal of a cargo of herring as manure at North Shields on Friday last, but I have not been able to have the facts investigated. The provisions of the Profiteering Act do not exempt profiteering in fish from punishment, and in so far as fish is not controlled action may be taken by the President of the Board of Trade in consultation with the Food Controller. A complete scheme of price control proposals for extending at an early date the powers of Food Control Committees is at present under consideration, and it is anticipated that this scheme will enable local food authorities to adjust prices to meet the changing situation in the matter of perishable commodities.


Apart from the question of the adjustment of prices, will the Food Control Department criminally prosecute anyone who destroys food for the sake of raising the price?


Yes. Any case of that kind brought to the notice of the Food Controller will certainly lead to a prosecution.

Lieut.-Colonel THORNE

Will the same principle apply to people who deliberately hold food up?


In view of the circulation of these statements, may I ask whether he could not cause his executive officers in those centres close to the fish-catching areas specially to make inquiries into the truth or otherwise of these statements?


Yes. The executive officers in the areas in question have already been instructed to make inquiries and report to the Minister on these allegations.


Will he tell us how many Members of this House would escape if profiteering were properly abolished?

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