HC Deb 03 November 1919 vol 120 cc1100-2
19. Sir F. HALL

asked the President of the Board of Trade if, in view of the unsatisfactory results achieved by the Profiteering Act in its present limited and restricted form, the Government propose to pass legislation in the present Session to remedy the defects disclosed by the working of the Act?


I cannot admit that the results achieved by the Profiteering Act have been unsatisfactory. As I informed the hon. and gallant Member for Hull Central on Monday last, the question whether the powers granted by the Profiteering Act should be extended is at present under consideration.


Are we to understand that the right hon. Gentleman is satisfied with the results of the Profiteering Act so far?


In so far as one can see, it is working surprisingly well, and because of its smooth working I think the time is approaching when the House should be asked to extend it.

67. Mr. SEDDON

asked the Prime Minister whether his attention has been drawn to the unsatisfatcory arrangements for working the Profiteering Act; is he aware that only one meeting of the central committee under the Act has been held and that during the railway strike, and not one-third of the members were able to be present; that that third packed all the committees; that on the special committee for preliminary investigation of complaints speakers were objecting to the committee interfering with the policy of the Act; and whether he will request the Board of Trade to call a proper meeting of the committee to administer the Act and endow it with power to make the Act effective, together with the capacity to make such reasonable outlay as shall accomplish this purpose?

9. Lieut.-Colonel W. THORNE

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will explain why no meeting of the central committee under the Profiteering Act has yet been properly held; whether the only meeting announced was one for 1st October, when not a third of the members were able to attend owing to the railway strike; whether it is intended that the powers under the Profiteering Act should be fully utilised; and, if so, will he promptly arrange for a meeting of the committee and enable them to make such arrangements that the efficiency or otherwise of the Act may be thoroughly and completely tested?

17. Mr. JESSON

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is aware of the dissatisfaction that has arisen through the Profiteering Act Committee only having held one meeting; is he aware that this meeting was attended by only a third of its members owing to the others being kept away by the railway strike, and that the third present packed all the sub-committees with their own nominees; and whether he will consider the advisability of at once summoning a special meeting of the full committee, and indicate in the notice convening such meeting that the composition of the sub-committees will be reconsidered, and request all members of the committee to notify him of the subcommittees upon which they think their services would be most useful?


It would appear that the hon. Members have misapprehended the functions of the Central Committee, which are, under the provisions of the Regulations, to appoint its three standing committees and to act as a panel from which members may be chosen for the various sub-committees to deal with certain specific subjects. A meeting of the Central Committee was properly convened for this purpose and took place on the 30th September. I may add that the three standing committees and the six sub-committees appointed by them have during the past month held between them thirty-three meetings. It is certainly my intention that the powers under the Profiteering Act should be fully utilised, and they are, in fact, being fully utilised.


Does the right hon. Gentleman justify this very important meeting being held during the period of the strike when only half the members could be present?


It was a matter of considerable urgency and of pushing on with the institutions for the central machinery. The meeting was properly convened and a quorum was present. Standing committees were appointed and, as the Central Committee after the appointment of standing committees was merely a panel from which members can be and are being drawn, it seemed to me to be a perfectly proper proceeding.