HC Deb 03 December 1919 vol 122 cc538-40

Whereupon Mr. SPEAKER, pursuant to the Order of the House of the 12th February, proposed the Question, "That this House do now adjourn."


In calling attention to the question of bacon, which was referred to at Question Time, I believe I am bringing before the House one of the grossest scandals that has ever been connected with a Government Department. I have discussed this matter with many people who are members of the trade, and they tell me that the grossest inefficiency has been shown to them, and we see the result in the vile and rotten bacon which is served up at our breakfast tables every morning. In reply to a supplementary question the Food Controller told us that he had an Advisory Committee, but that he did not necessarily take advantage of their advice. As a matter of fact, when he controlled bacon in August last, he did not consult them at all. He passed over the advice given by them afterwards, and events have proved that it has been absolutely borne out by facts. He also states in the reply that there was no deterioration in the quality or depreciation in the value of bacon which can be in any way attributed to the renewal of the control. I should like to say that the answer which has been given to him in this respect by his officials is not borne out by the facts. As a matter of fact, the deterioration in quality and value of the bacon, I am informed by members of the trade, will amount to the considerable sum of anything between £10,000,000 and £20,000,000. I dare say that he will state that that bacon was not purchased by the Government, and that it was purchased by private traders, but the fact remains, if the control had not been put on to bacon again, that bacon would not have gone bad, or, if it had, the loss through deterioration would have fallen upon the trade and not on the Government. I am satisfied that by controlling bacon he has saved the American packing houses from losing many millions. The question of increased prices was also raised in the questions I addressed to him. He stated in his reply that it was to pre- vent an increase in price. That is not borne out by the facts. The price of hogs, as he was told by his advisers at the time, was on the point of breaking, He introduced control on the top of the market. Therefore, when the fall came, the loss fell upon the Government instead of on the packing houses in America and the private traders. As a matter of fact, hogs in America fell from 40 cents to something like 20 cents, and people in the trade tell me that it is the invariable rule when hogs fall in America for the price of bacon to fall in sympathy, but in this case the Food Controller kept his price at the old level, and, therefore, in spite of the fact that the bacon was bad, he kept up the price at an absurd and ridiculous figure. During this autumn the price of bacon would have come down to 1s. 3d. and 1s. 6d. in the 1b. if it had been left in the hands of private traders,

Notice taken that forty Members were not present; House counted, and forty Members not being found present,

The House was adjourned at Five minutes after Eleven of the clock till Tomorrow.